Hey Bartender! pg. 27

san diego booty

July 31, 2006 / More →

I didn't score nearly as many books as i usually do at San Diego ComiCon, but i did come away with a few assorted gems.

First and foremost, my most favoritest find, by far, was an unassuming sketchbook, found just across the isle in Sam Hiti's modest little booth. It's called Ghoulash, and holy shit is this some of the most incredible work to come out of the U.S. in a long long while.

Actually, to call it a mere sketchbook is not accurate. While each image in the book is standalone, the renditions are fully realized, in a gorgeous lush style. There are many influences i see, including European ink-studs like the French Beaudoin and Blutch, and the Spanish Max. From North America i see maybe shades of Jay Stephens, Paul Pope, Mignola and perhaps even Bruce Timm.

But Sam's work is entirely his own, and the depth of his imagination is just huge; bordering on Kirbyesque even. At least visually. If there is one weakness to my mind, in Hiti's work, it's that he lacks the narrative focus (for now) to create a truly timeless piece of graphic fiction. (This is not dissimilar to Pope's work. And like Pope, the very prowess of his visuals can and does carry a weak story.)

His last big book, End Times: Tiempos Finales, is literally a visual tour de force, and yet ultimately it's just not very affecting as a narrative. A good story editor might go a long way in helping Hiti better understand the nuts & bolts of timing, story logic, etc.

Still, i think Sam has the gift, and has the potential to become on the stars in the firmament of greats. I'd give my left pinky to publish virtually anything he touches. (Sam, do you have any need for a severed pinky finger?)


there and back again...

July 28, 2006 / More →

•Â Yeah, so San Diego absolutely rocked the house. (Except for the brutal heat and humidity. A 10 minute walk from hotel to convention hall worked me up into a sweaty lather.) If you want a full round-up, i'd wager Spurgeon most likely has links to the best one can find, over at Comics Reporter.

• The fine gentlemen from Regent Printing (Robert Conte and Stephen Bomgaard), who did a flawless job printing Lost Girls, took Chris, Melinda and myself out to dinner on the night i arrived in San Diego, to celebrate this momentous occasion. The company was fabulous, the filet mignon was perfect, but my hangover the next day was excruciating. Needless to say i got caught in the moment, drinking several margaritas, red wine, and port for dessert. Let the good times roll, eh?

• We ended up selling all 500 copies of Lost Girls (which were airmailed to San Diego from Hong Kong), and only gave away ONE single comp! (To Wildstorm maestro, and frequent Alan Moore editor Scott Dunbier.) Artist Melinda Gebbie was in attendance, and was gleefully signing books all weekend. Having been working in a virtual cave for years wrapping this project up, i think Melinda was genuinely surprised by the delightful response she received.

• Back on the food front, one of my favorite things about this con; had a fancy dinner one night with Jeffrey Brown at Sally's, on the promenade over by Seaport Village. (Where i bumped into Atlantis Fantasy World proprietor Joe Ferrarra, his lovely wife Dottie, and Paul Chadwick.) Ahi tuna, seared rare of course, melted in my mouth, but the bartender was totally out of his league when i asked for a Mint Julip. Ate dinner on Eisner's night with Aaron Renier (who WON the Eisner for Talent Most Deserving of Wider Recognistion!) at the fabulous Indigo Grill, up in the Little Italy neighborhood. Being a little off the beaten path, this is mostly a locals restaurant, but well worth the effort tracking down. The ribs and corn salsa are one of life's greatest simple pleasures. Plus, every girl on staff so very easy on the eyes.

Another great night of dining was with the "40-and-Over-Club"... myself, Renee French, and Garret Izumi. We grabbed a table outside at Seaport Village, found some grub, and had some seriously inspirational conversation. Renee is a natural storyteller, and her stories truly have to be heard to be believed. My lips are sealed. The more i get to know Renee, the bigger fan i become. And Garret, well, he's one of the first people i ever knew in the biz, and one my favorite people on the planet.

• I'm not a star-fucker by nature. I've waited tables and/or made cocktails for Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro, as well as basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain. To me, they were just regular guys.

But over the weekend, i came back to our booth after a pee break, or whatever, only to find one of my absolute favorite comics author of ALL TIME standing in line to get Andy Runton's signature on some Owly books. Yes, that's right, it turns out that he and his lady are HUGE fans. Now, normally i'm not one to blithely introduce myself to a celebrity i'd love to meet, unless an opportunity naturally presented itself. (Like, say at a party or even at a signing.)

But after suffering from a painful 5-minute bout of anxiety trying to ascertain what i should do, i calmly realized that, hey, i am the publisher of this book after all, and so i introduced myself as such, professed myself as a big fan, and to my surprise struck up a nice 10 or 15 minute conversation. Both Grant and his partner were charming to the end. I remained cool on the outside, but was so excited, i really can't recall much of what we talked about besides All-Star Superman and rock-star artist Frank Quitely.

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

• Meanwhile, on an unrelated note, go here for a short interview with International Comics Man-on-the-Scene John Weeks.

John also started a new Comics non-profit called "Our Books."

• Also, feast your eyes on this smashing print Jeremy Tinder created for Lollapalooza. Sweet! (Jeremy's new book Cry Yourself to Sleep was recently given an excellent review by our good friend Greg McElhatten, over at iComics, so don't dally true believers, and get your ass on over there.)

•Â This is way late, but cool as hell all the same. Staros picked these up for me when he attended Book Expo a few months ago. These are catalogs by Drawn & Quarterly and Fantagraphics. Made specifically for the book trade, they're not widely seen. Two beautiful catalogs by two of the most important publishers working today.


san diego bound

July 19, 2006 / More →

Off in the morning to the greatest freak-fest on planet earth, and like every year, i'm giddy with excitement. What's not to love about fleets of fat Klingons, leather-skinned & way past their due-date, aging "models," hordes of pony-tailed sweathogs in their full-length black leather jackets, and 40 year-old men dressed up like Sailor Moon?

I've been doing this show on and off now since i first went down with my pal Steve Ryan in 1991, and we were pitching projects to the Kevin Eastman pipe-dream, the money black-hole known as Tundra. We went again in 1994, and i haven't missed a show since 1996.

Chris, Rob (Venditti) and Andy (Runton) are already there and set up. Many thanks, guys. I don't envy those cats; for some reason the organizers refuse to turn on the air-conditioning during set-up, despite the bazillion dollar per-square-foot rental space vendors pay for the luxury.

This year, however, we'll be displaying fewer of our backlist books in general, and more of the frontlist and brand new books. (Hope to freaking god that Jeffrey Brown's new book shows.) So set-up should be a little easier.

I'll be honest... i just don't know what to expect about the debut of Lost Girls. The artist, Melinda Gebbie will be there signing, all the way from Northampton, England, and the press so far has been great. But this book … at the risk of sounding like i'm talking out of my ass … is absolutely unique in comics history. Highly intellectual, deeply spiritual, hard-core porn? At $75 a pop? Keeping fingers crossed.

I hope i sleep tonight.


arf! arf!

July 18, 2006 / More →

I'd seen this funky looking magazine/book at numerous stores for a while now, called Modern Arf, edited by Craig Yoe. Not know exactly what it was, and broke to boot, i passed. Luckily fate came to my rescue, in the form of Reading Frenzy proprietress Chloe Eudaley, who sold me a copy of volume one for half price, because it had a dinged cover.

I just bought the second issue (both volumes are published by Fantagraphics) at Reading Frenzy, and i'm now a certified convert. This publication is a veritable treasure trove of cool comics weirdness. Yoe is excavating long-lost and forgotten gems that truly deserve the light of day. (With some perfectly suitable contemporary work sprinkled throughout, for zest.) He's the freaking Indiana Jones of Comics.

Arf also treads into the realm of sister media, like editorial cartoons, and fine-art illustration. A philosophy that i love, and one that gets overlooked, in the larger context of comics history. The focus and bent is not unlike that of another fine publication, Comic Art, but the difference is in the presentation. Where Comic Art might expend a great deal of energy and space talking about a given subject, Arf is more prone to just throw it up on its oversized pages in all it's inky beauty, with maybe one tiny text caption of explanation.

Kudos to Craig on curating one of my favorite new things in comics in a very very long time.

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Meanwhile, i just finished reading easily the most succinct short essay on The Conservative Agenda, ever. In fact, i'd be interested to read a Conservative response to this. The title of the piece is Bush Is Not Incompetent. If politics or truth don't float your boat, just skip this.


top secret ass-kickin'

July 15, 2006 / More →

How much booty does Aaron Renier kick all over town. (In his case, Brooklyn.)

Here is his newly designed cover for the French edition of Spiral-Bound, renamed Top Secret Summer (the sub-title of Aaron's book), because there was no real translation otherwise.

Masterful. Aaron, great work.


superman deliverance

July 12, 2006 / More →

Finally saw Superman Returns on Sunday night. Went with my old comic-geek fanboy buddy Steve Taylor, who, in the end, said he didn't like it! Ouch. Mostly because he wasn't into the religious allegory.

To be fair, there were some pretty long stretches in this baby where i was bored stiff. Example: Lex Luthor's Kryptonite/Crystal palace erupting off the east coast. Sure the effects were stunning and grand, but holy crap some of these scenes were coma-inducing.

Also, the weird connection to the first two flicks by Richard Donner, with several almost scene-for-scene reinterpretations, made this seem like watching Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, and Army of Darkness all rolled into one movie.

As for the religious stuff, that was actually some of the best stuff. The allegory way beyond mere Christianity (or any world religion for that matter), into the larger realm of mythology, both classic and contemporary. The crucifix money shot of Supes drifting powerless in the atmosphere was almost worth the price of admission, on its own. The Hero's Journey, and all that.

The actors rocked, the look was lush and right on the money, the sets all fine and dandy. But for me, if there was any recent criticism of the movie that i would share, it's the almost disturbing devotion to the Donner films, which led to a lack of originality. It was perfectly executed, and yet something was lacking. Sort of like JLO.

In any case, i loved it all around. I really liked Kate Bosworth... a real surprise. Routh was solid, if not a little boyish now and then. Loved Spacey and Posie. I had a big grin on my face for most of the film, and that pretty much says it all.

•Â Then last night, i went with one of my interns, Chris to the pub/theater a few blocks away, to see the classic Deliverance. I hadn't seen this existential nightmare since i was a wee lad. (Literally, i remember being about 13 or 14 when one of my parents took us kids out with some other friends to a drive-in to see this.) I didn't remember much of this besides the banjo scene, and now i know why … it must have fucked me up in such a big way that i had to purge it from my psyche altogether, or leave me ruined at an early age. Mom, what were you thinking?!?!

Seriously, i'm amazed that this film isn't mentioned more often as one of the pantheon of greats. Just great storytelling all around, and a scary indictment of the human condition. Jon Voight turned in a brilliant performance, and actually conveyed such a realistic drunken scene, that i almost wouldn't doubt for a second that he was actually wasted off his ass when filming it.

I don't know much about the making of this (and now i want to), but it seems like it may have been one of those "journey" films, ala Apocalypse Now, where the crew and cast were living what they were creating.

And the hillybillies, well, yeah... oof.


damn you, gary!

July 8, 2006 / More →

Once again my buddy Gary Butler makes a strong personal recommendation to me, and yet again i have a new jones for more entertainment to dig on, when i simply don't have time enough in the day to think straight as it is.

Not long ago, you see, Gary sent me a really crummy bootleg of the recent retcon of Battlestar Galactica. About an hour in the disc started jumping erratically, and even skipping whole chapters; so much so it was unwatchable. I'm convinced now that Gary sent me the bum disc on purpose to prove how compelling this show really is. The very next day i went out and bought the Season One dvd set (which includes the mini-series as well), just so i could see how it the opening scene ends. Holy crapola, what a great twist!

Just got done watching the first regular episode, and i have to say that this is absolutely riveting television. Hands-down the best contemporary sci-fi on tv (well, along with Firefly, that is) since Next Generation, oh so long ago. I will admit i was very skeptical of this series when it premiered, if mainly because there has been zero science fiction that suited my tastes in years and years and years. (Again, excepting Whedon's Firefly, which is so singularly unique, i don't put it in the same category.)

I love the idea of the new model cylons, and especially the hot, sex-starved, god-fearing blondy, who gets under the skin of the bad guy, the scientist Dr. Gaius Baltar … the stand-in for the old bulb-headed bad in the original. (I'm guessing, anyway. I haven't seen that stuff in so long, and i can't recal for sure. I'd wager it hasn't held up too well. Although i'll ALWAYS love the old spaceships, and the cyclons themselves.)

The cast is superb, and just how Loren Greene carried the show in it's first incarnation, Edward James Olmos is beyond incredible in this role. Tough, responsible, warm, and a true leader. This guy is a rock. (Wish we had "real" leaders like this running the show.)

The President (something like the 43rd in command, after the home planets were decimated along with the old Prez and the next 40-odd in line), is played with aplomb by Mary McDonnell. Apollo and Starbuck, and even the deck-hands, all stand out. There's no dud on the crew. (Like the original annoying blond who used to stand next to Worf on Next Generation. Man, i was so happy to see her bite it. What was her name?)

But what really rocks me is just the verisimilitude of the show. Everything just looks and feels plausible, unlike shows like Babylon 5, Farscape, or Stargate, all of which have such a cheesy veneer to them. (I've never been able to sit through a single episode of any one of them, so i won't cast judgment... they're just not my gig.) And the scenario rings so much more true than any of Trek shows post-Next Generation.

I. Am. Hooked. Thanks, Gary!

• Read a few things over a 4th of July break spent at my mom-in-law's lake-house. Most note-worthy was the excellent Bob Haney interview in the most recent Comics Journal. Great stuff, from a grizzled old DC vet who passed away a few years ago. A hot-headed guy with a wonderful sense of humor, and not afraid to call a spade a spade.

•Â Also read volume one of the new Southland Tales prequel graphic novels, by Richard (Donnie Darko) Kelly. It's pretty bizarre, like i expected, and when the next volume comes out, i'll re-read this one again. Pretty original, if not entirely easy to follow. The art by Brett Weldele is simply gorgeous. And no, i'm not just saying this because Brett drew our own Surrogates. I just dig his stuff. People have compared his work to Ben Templesmith … a fair comparison, and another artist i like (30 Days of Night is killer) … but i think Brett can paint circles around Ben. He's got the same flair for color , mood, and atmosphere, but his line art and storytelling are both, well, better.

In any case, in spite of some negative reviews about the debut of Southland Tales at Cannes this year, this prequel piqued my interest, and has me really looking forward to the flick. After all, Donnie Darko was a big-time sleeper, and now it's a legitimate cult phenomenon.

•Â Lastly, i read the recent Modern Masters from the superb TwoMorrows press, spotlighting my old hero John Byrne. This was a great read, and the featured interview was one conducted by Jon Cooke, originally intended to run in an issue of Comic Book Artist. In his prime, Byrne was a god. And so inspired i went out and picked up the first four issues of his recent retcon of The Doom Patrol. His art was actually very nice, inked by Doug Hazelwood i think(?), and his story had some good ideas. But it just smelled and tasted so much like a late-80's - early 90's, by-the-numbers comic book, i just couldn't buy into it. (Especially when right afterwards, i pulled my Doom Patrol Archives off the shelf, and marveled at the goofy fun and the absolutely stunning art by Bruno Primiani. Why that guy isn't mentioned in the same breath as his Silver Age comrades is a freaking crime.)

Anyway, sorry John. That said, i will track down the first couple issues he did (again with a more detailed inker than himself) of Action Comics, penned by Gail Simone. We'll see. I'll let you know what i think.


Gregory Benton sighting

June 29, 2006 / More →

•Â My friend, cartoonist Gregory Benton, lives in New York and recently participated in a fabulous gallery show (curated by cartoonist Jason Little) in the city called OPOLIS, at the Flux Factory, that essentially creates a miniature 3-D city, and also incorporates comics. This is a hugely ambitious show that i wish to god i could see in person.

•Â The site description reads:
OPOLIS presents Comix-Fluxture-as-city. Opolis is an imaginary city, located in the Flux Factory main space. Individual city blocks have been assigned to individual cartoonists and illustrators. These cartoonists have designed the buildings and environments that will fill the city blocks (an apartment building, a looming office skyscraper, a library, a public park…) with invented characters that are the citizens of Opolis.

OPOLIS is the third manifestation of Flux Factory’s annual “Comix Fluxture” exhibit. These exhibits have brought cartoonists and illustrators into the gallery to create comics narratives that also function as installation art. The ongoing objective of the series is to create works of art to be read intimately…as a comic strip…but also contribute to an overall installation spectacle.

• If you live in New York, get your ass on over there!

Following is an email and photos i received from Gregory, reprinted with his permission. The comic strip that Gregory himself created for his "building" (which you can see in these photos), we'll also reprint in its entirety in the next update of our comix section on this site.

• If Gregory's name sounds familiar, then you may have read some of his comics goodness here on our own comix section. or it's because of a wonderful comic he did for Slave Labor a long long time ago called Hummingbird. It's lusciously drawn and a real wild read. Since then, he's been doing more painting than anything else, though he has been doing some funky-cool historical comic strips that none of us will get to see. Some lucky students will though. His comics work these days is full-color bliss. Here's hoping that one day we'll all be blessed to see more.

•Â Meanwhile, i'm leaving for a long weekend down at my awesome mom-in-law's fabulous lake-house, down by the Oregon Sand Dunes on the coast.

• Gregory Benton writes:
Finished up the building & comix I had been working on. The opening was excellent. Good crowd, great reception. I was interviewed briefly by the NY Press, if anything comes of that, I'll forward it to you. Info on the show can be found at www.fluxfactory.org.

The building dimensions are 6' wide x 4'deep & 7.5' high. Medium: Styrofoam, acrylic enamel & Digography. As far as content, comix run on the two long sides (front & back) with paintings & sketches along the sides.


woof! woof!

June 26, 2006 / More →

The entire family here at Casa de Warnock has been sick like dogs. A freaky virus that has every one of us exhibiting different symptoms, in addition to a few shared. Add to this our old house (with NO air conditioning) and 100º days, and it's the outright Portland Misery Festival right here. Whoo hoo!

That said, i have been working with Chris to wrap up the new edition of From Hell and get it to the printer. So not all is lost.

I did read a new(ish) comic a couple days ago, and it's a doozy. I'm talking of course of Kevin Huizenga's OR ELSE Vol. 4, published by the great Drawn & Quarterly. And it's yet another gem, from one of the most under-rated cartoonist working today. Kevin is (or was... maybe he's moved?) part of a thriving comics collective in St. Louis, which includes a number of stellar talents, including Dan Zettwoch and Ted May.

Where most reviewers focus on Huizenga's command of his formal skills, and how he applies them to the stories he tells, i'm actually more drawn into his work for his ability to capture small moments; his ability to convey a palpable mood and setting that feels like you've been transported right there. He's been doing this for years, going way back to his formative mini-comic, Supermonster.

In other news, i must say my inner geek is totally fired-up to find a postcard at MoCCA announcing the release of the long-awaited, previously defunct fantasy anthology edited by Jeffrey Brown, called Elfworld. The buzz around this book has been big for years, and knowing that it's coming out warms the cockles. It's being published by a newer outfit called Family Style.


oh how wrong i was...

June 21, 2006 / More →

Down two breezy games to none against the Mighty Mavericks, and down by 13 points in the third quarter in Game 3, the underdog Miami Heat, under the dominating will of Dwayne (the clear MVP) Wade, have won four in a freaking row to win the NBA Finals. And in Dallas no less.

I would have liked to have seen either team win (since the Suns weren't there), but in the end, the better team won. Miami stepped up their defense like were amped on crank, causing the normally in-control Mavs to scramble, lose their rhythm, and miss shots.

This has been the best Finals i've seen in years. (Though my favorite playoff series in the Modern Era was the Western Conference Finals a few years back between the Lakers and The Sacramento Kings.)

I loves me some hoops, but i'm breathing a heaping inhaler blast of relief right about now, knowing that i won't have to watch any more sports for at least a few more months. (Well, except for the World Cup.... and maybe Grand Slam Tennis.)

And moving onto some comics news, i must say what a surprise it was to take my weekly trip to one of my favorites comics websites, Ninth Art, only to read that this was to be their last issue. Andrew Wheeler was the guy i knew personally involved with the effort (though i did meet Antony Johnston at SPX a few years ago), but there were a lot of people who made this site what it was.

This last ish includes an interview with the quite talented Ed Piskor, whose comics grace the comix section on our own site, in collaboration with Underground legend Jay Lynch.

Also in this volume, their annual Lighthouse Awards, with the Publisher of the Year category going to the well-deserved Oni Press. (Two words. Scott. Pilgrim.)

What i loved about Ninth Art was that it had interesting, well-considered (if not stubbornly opinionated) content, excellent interviews and reviews, and most importantly, a Unique Voice. It had super simple design, but was more than effective. I HIGHLY recommend that readers traipse on over and check this out.

Kudos on a great run, folks. I'm truly going to miss ya. I hope that you're able to leave the site up for archival purposes, as did my last favorite, now-defunct comics weekly site, Savant. Best of luck with the next gig, for all of you.


nine days later...

June 18, 2006 / More →

Shoot... so hard getting back on the horse when i've been away. To recap the last ten days.

MoCCA. good. Sales were down a little from last year, but hey … the crowd was steady, the vibe was groovy, and we were in New York, so that's o.k.

Good times at the Top Shelf booth. We had Alex Robinson, Tony Consiglio (whose 110Per¢ debuted), Lilli Carre (Tales of Woodsman Pete debut), Rob Venditti, Andy Runton, Jeremy Tinder, Chris Duffy (from Nickelodeon) pimping Grampa & Julie, the aforementioned Liz Prine and Aaron Renier, and of course, Papa Chris.

Publisher's Weekly wrote:
"...Lilli Carré was in Top Shelf's booth to sign the biggest debut of the show, Tales of Woodsman Pete…and they sold 125 copies of it over the weekend." (Subscription required, i think.)

Saw lot's of friends, partied pretty hard (the Barcade party by Sparkplug fucked me right up), played foosball at the Fantagraphics party, ate some lame and some great grub. Walked a lot. Rode the subway more times than i can count.

Stayed two nights at Aaron Renier's pad in Brooklyn (as did Liz Prince, in from Boston), and my last night at Gregory Benton's beautiful place on the Upper West Side.

I visited a plethora of bitchin' comics shops (Rocketship, Forbidden Planet and Jim Hanley's) and bookstores (The Strand and Virgin Megastore), and amazingly only spent $30!! I'm shocked and amazed. (The big ticket item, volume 2 of The Times of Botchan manga reprint, by Jiro Taniguchi [author of The Walking Man] and published by Potent/Fanfare.)

Meanwhile, once again my amigo Gary Butler asked me a couple geeky questions recently, and i thought the communique worthy yet again some bloggity fun.

***********************************************

On Jun 16, 2006, at 11:25 AM, Gary Butler wrote:
I am not a fan of Grell's writing at all. I enjoyed LONGBOW HUNTERS at the time that he did it, and felt that it evinced a (dare I say) maturation in his style. But I can't say that it aged well at all. (Still own it, mind.)

Brett responds:
As i mentioned in an earlier email, when i was 15 i was a HUGE fan of Warlord, but i just never liked his superhero stuff. In fact, i hated it. I'd totally lost it for him with Sable (The assassin who moonlights as a children's book author? What the fu.?), and never even picked up on Longbow Hunters when it came out. (Although i bought it a few years ago after i'd read a seemingly enlightened review of it, on how much deeper it runs than it's credited for. Bullshit. I sat down to read this thing and literally couldn't get past the first 10 or 15 pages. Just horrible stuff.)

Gary Butler wrote:
You a CONAN fan at all? Me, not so much. Never read the Howard. Hated the Arnold movies. Never got into the Marvel stuff. I have the entire Dark Horse run and have read maybe a third of it; it's clearly top-notch stuff, but consistently fails to make me want to immerse myself, so I have to figure that Conan's just not m'man...

Brett responds:
HUGE Conan fan, starting with the paperbacks with the Frazetta (and a few Boris) covers when i was but a wee lad. Those were great, especially the visceral writing of Howard himself. Hated the Conan movie... yeah, like this wimpy kid was forced into slave labor pushing this wheel around for ten years, and now he's a freakishly buff fighting machine... god that's so lame.

Anyway, i LOVED the long Marvel run by Roy Thomas and John Busceme (inked by Ernie Chan). Really beautifully drawn and well written fantasy. In fact, it's some of the tiny amount of fantasy i have in my library at all. The Dark Horse reprints of these are awesome, and well worth picking up. All the way through the first ten volumes. (And up until they reach issue #100, after which the magic flame burned out and quality plummeted.)

If you try any more Conan ever, go straight to the source and read the originals by Robert E. Howard.

Gary Butler wrote:
Now, early Cerebus, *there's* a charcter...

Brett responds:
Waaaay late on this bandwagon, and at about the time i was about to dive in, he launched his screed against womankind (i think it was called Reads?), and now i have no desire to ever read Cerebus.

***********************************************


off to nyc

June 9, 2006 / More →

New incredible work by Martin Tom Dieck in Strapazin. If you don't know this guy's work, i highly recommend seeking it out. Strapazin is a comics anthology /review magazine out of Germany and/or Switzerland. (I think they have offices in both, but i'm not exactly sure where the World Headquarters are.) The focus being what we call Lit Comics... sort of a polar opposite of our own Wizard magazine (which my inner fanboy loves quite enough, thanks).

Very happy with Jeffrey's cover painting for I Am Going to be Small.

Off to New York. Thanks for the ride, Steve Lafler!!


the number of the man-beast

June 7, 2006 / More →

two fabulous links.

Melinda Gebbie in the house at Suicide Girls. Interview by Daniel Robert Epstein.

Review of Jeffrey Brown's coda to the Girlfriend Trilogy, Every Girl is the End of the World for Me.


being scott mccloud

June 4, 2006 / More →

Cartoonist and long-time friend Garret Izumi and myself drove two hours hours south yesterday to the University of Oregon in Eugene, to see a lecture by Scott McCloud. Apparently it's only the third or fourth time he's done this particular talk, although as tight and perfectly executed as it was, i almost find this hard to believe.

The lecture was broken down into three parts. The first, a brief overview of his forthcoming third academic book, Making Comics, was prefaced by a fast-paced and delightfully funny author biography. McCloud's deft use of Powerpoint as a storytelling medium in itself is unparalleled.

He then talked briefly about a formal comics theory he calls The Four Tribes, representing different schools of thought and emphasis about the medium (if i recall, essentially Craft, Story, Formalism, and The Auteur), and how these various schools can and do overlap. This part of the talk blew my mind. I can only hope that he makes a book collecting these ideas one day. (And offered to publish said book if he ever needed to find a publisher for it.)

Lastly, he talked of course about his love of web comics … a topic which he discussed at length over the second half of his last book, Reinventing Comics. In Reinventing Comics the tone McCloud used seemed at least in part to intimate that web comics were THE future of comics, and print comics merely a sadly dying breed. He now seems to have tweaked this view, acknowledging the limits of web comics (mostly technical limitations), while at the same time admitting merits of comics as printed matter. No more "either/or" proposition.

Where Scott DID sell me on the merits of comics viewed through the new web-based format, is on the idea of the internet as primarily just a new tool in the toolbox for telling stories with words and images. He's clearly given this a great deal of thought, and no matter where one might stand on this debate, McCloud's ideas are absolutely a critical part of the discussion.

Truly a brilliant mind. This was a thoroughly riveting Powerpoint chalk-talk. Thanks, Scott. Kudos also to my old prof Ken O'Connell, for his continuing mission to infuse his enthusiasm for comics into the curriculum at U of O; and especially to the head of the Comp Lit program, Lisa Freinkel, for bring comics into the literary fold.

It's kind of an unexpected, though not unreasonable twist in finding a college market for comics. We've been trying to quietly sneak comics in through the Art School for so long (and all this time to their utter disdain), who would have imagined that in the end, it would be the Lit Department who've opened the door. If Lisa and Ken keep this up, Eugene might just become a thriving Sister City to the Comics Mecca that is Portland.

• Meanwhile, here's a delightful illustration by German cartoonist Mawil (creator of our own Beach Safari), for the wedding invitation of Sebastian Oehler, who works for the German comics publisher Reprodukt.

Congrats! Sebastian, your wedding gift from the U.S. is in sending fellow Deutschlander Dirk Nowitzski and the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA FInals for the first time in their history.

•Â Yes, that's right... the table has been set. The run & gun Phoenix Suns ran out of gas, and without the shot-blocking presence of Amare Stoudemire and Kurt Thomas they just couldn't keep up the pace. For the Title, we'll be watching the Dallas Mavericks vs. the Miami Heat (also in their first trip to the NBA Finals). Even though i'm sad to see the Suns fall, it'll be nice to see some fresh faces in the Finals. My call … Dallas in seven games. Shaq is playing quite inspired, and Dwayne Wade is a future Hall-of-Famer, but i think they'll eventually go down to the mighty Mavs.


catching up on a few things

June 2, 2006 / More →

• The freaking Phoenix Suns, who had a kick-ass third quarter tonight, led by the hot shooting of Tim Thomas, caved and lost to Dallas in this Game 5 of the seven game series. Dirk Nowitski had 50 points! Shit! I'm amazed the Suns weren't quicker to double-team this one-man wrecking ball. This time of the year i get so fired up with hoops fever, that by the time the Finals are over, i'm exhausted, and glad for the season to be over. (But not so much as my wife.)

•Â International Comics Ambassador John Weeks has uploaded yet another fine installment of his wonderful Comics Lifestyle. A former staffer at both Dark Horse and (maybe?) Fantagraphics, and a stalwart in the Australian and New Zealand scene from years ago, John has spent the last few years working in Cambodia, and is, on the side, feverishly attempting to document the comics scene there. Boy, the world could use a few more good men like this.

• Took some books in the other day for trade at Powell's City of Books (one of the most glorious bookstores in the universe), and picked up a luscious coffee-table art book called Art Out of Time: Unknown Comics Visionaries, edited by Dan (Ganzfeld) Nadel. Essentially, this entire volume provides stellar samples of work by cartoonists who toiled in the trenches like their more well-known comrades, but just never received the same attention. It's a really fabulous book, and most importantly, Nadel chose to showcase entire story strips, so that the reader isn't limited to just bits & pieces. The only flaw in the whole book was the weird inclusion of underground legend Rory Hayes. Not that Hayes' work isn't worthy (even though i feel it's the weakest work in the whole, and just not to my taste), but more that it sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the work in the book. Still, this Abrams release is well worth every penny. I can only hope that it does well, and that we'll see more archival books like this in the future. Well done, Dan.

•Â Recently wrapped up the run of Ed Brubaker and (in this last three issue story arc) Greg Rucka's unbelievably good comic Gotham Central. Wow. What a damn cool series this was... easily the best cop drama that i've ever read in comics. The conceit … how does the Major Crimes Unit operate in a grimy city littered with super-types … is a no-brainer, which i can't believe took this long to come along. "The Brube" and Greg Rucka (who either traded story arcs or collaborated on them together) were really in their element with this series, and the early issues drawn by Michael Lark are nothing short of world-class. That said, while he started out a little shaky, regular replacement artist Kano, along with the sturdy inks of Stephano Guadiano, really developed an excellent style that lended itself perfectly to the book. I hope DC has the wherewithal to finish collecting the entire run into trade paperbacks.

•Â Another sweet "pop single" (a perfect term coined by Warren Ellis for one-shot gem) is the Oni Press Free Comic Book Day effort this year, called Free Scott Pilgrim. This comic shouldn't be as good as it is, given that the narrative is fractured, and the reader is dropped into the story willy-nilly (both qualities also shared in the graphic novel series) … but in a similar manner of cartoonists like Paul Pope, the sheer blistering energy in this comic negates any story inconsistencies. Bryan O'Malley's art too is a fluid blend of contemporaries in the lush Craig Thompson school, fused with a healthy dose of manga influence. Great stuff, and very highly recommended.

•Â Reader Ron Swintek wrote in:

"I've been enjoying your Hey Bartender blog for a few weeks now, and since you were just lamenting the lack of topics, and I've been meaning to make a request anyway...
 
"Awhile back, you alluded to the problems you guys have had bringing From Hell back into print, and wondered aloud if anyone really cared. I keep my ear pretty low to the ground on all things From Hell, and haven't really heard the deal with not having this book out during Alan's most popular time here on Planet Earth. I, for one, would love to hear the whole, sordid tale.
  
"Keep up the good work on the blog … yet another X-Men Omnibus convert, here, thanks to your comments!"

Thanks for writing, Ron.

O.k. Here's the dilly. Eddie Campbell had been self-publishing From Hell through his imprint Eddie Campbell Comics, up until two years ago when Top Shelf took it over. Up until then, we were just handling distribution. When Top Shelf picked it up i did a little tweaking to the design and added flaps to the cover. It looked great, and sold through pretty quickly. Then the fuckery started.

The printer that Eddie had been using for the life of the book theretofore, Prenney Litho, had just received a $20,000 advance from ourselves and co-publishers Knockabout from England for another printing, when they informed us that they were filing for bankruptcy. Oh joy. (Flashbacks of Black Tuesday and the Twelve Hour Miracle popped in my head.) Unfortunately, they also had the only extent film for the book, and when the owner told us that he was planning on restructuring, and to hold on until then, we really had no choice but to sit back, cross our fingers, and hope that this would happen. Months came and went, and still we heard the same sad song.

Clearly, we were in a bind. Finally something happened which forced our hand. Prenney up and disappeared entirely. No phone, no email, no website, no 20K, and no book. Zippo. And so it was at this point, that Eddie Campbell had to dig out the master photocopies that he had made (having long since sold off the original art for the book) and began scanning. How long this took, i'm not sure, but it must have been a long long while. After ten years, i've done my share of scanning, and i can tell you firsthand, there are few things more mind-numbing than this.

Move ahead, eight or ten discs containing the scanned art arrive here for me to work with, and as i began the (also) long and grueling process of cleaning up Eddies scans (a necessary process, erasing defects like stray pencil marks, gobbed-up white-out, hairs, dust, and what have you) i discover yet another problem. It seems that as Eddie was burning discs for me, his computer was in the process of dying. The result of which, at least a third of the files were corrupted. (Most often manifested by weird lines running arbitrarily through the pages, making them unprintable.) AAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! Make it stop!

So finally, after all of this, i'm just days away from sending this to our own trustworthy printer, Lebonfon (formerly a subsidiary of the behemoth Quebecor), hopefully in time to make San Diego.

The end.