Jeff Lemire's Essex County Trilogy ranks as Greg Burgas' Best Graphic Novel of 2008, on his Comics Should Be Good column over at Comic Book Resources! (Full reviews here.) Nate Powell's Swallow Me Whole comes in third! (Full review here.)
• Jeff also scores an interview with Chris Arrant at Newsarama about his forthcoming Vertigo graphic novel, The Nobody.
Jeff has a sneak-peek on his blog!
• Belgian cartoonist, and Top Shelf alum, Jean Bourguignon has a terrific new website! Even if you don't read French, it's a delight for the eyes!
• Previews is out (i have yet to pick it up) bu i'm told that Mike Dawson's new book from AdHouse is listed — Ace Face: The Mod with the Metal Arms. I've read some of this stuff in Project: Superior, and it is awesome!! Buy it! Read it! Love it!
Shipping April 2009
Diamond Order Code: FEB094014
• Matt Kindt has some preview pages at his own website for his forthcoming Dark Horse book, Giant Man.
• Portlander Jamie Rich is interviewed at Newsarama!
Liz Prince is interviewed in comics form by Noah Van Sciver in the new issue of The Comics Journal. (Brian K. Vaughan cover feature.)
• Also, just heard that my other mentor in comics (and oddly enough, Diana's ex-husband and best friend) Bob Schreck was laid off by DC. I just don't know enough details to comment on this, but if this was out of the blue for Bob, and not of his choosing, all i can say is that whoever makes the decisions at DC has their head shoved very firmly up their ass. Bob is a legend in this industry, and justly so.
Best to you with the next chapter, Bob.
• On a brighter note, how amazingly cool is this Wolverine cover homage by Renee French. (Done for Rob Goodin's wicked cool Covered blog.)
January 16, 2009 / More →
well, from Vancouver that is (right across the Columbia River) for yet another reading from VEEPS: Profiles In Insignificance. This marks Bill's second event here in the City of Roses (although sadly sans his partner-in-crime, Veeps illustrator Wayne Shellabarger) to promote his book, and as it's on the Eve of The Obama Inauguration, this stands to be a doozy! So if you're in P-Town next week, come out and see what the fuss is all about!
Monday, January 19, 7:30 p.m.
Powell's Books on Hawthorne
3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, OR 97214
• So my son Carter (just turned four) and myself are almost wrapped up watching the complete adventures of the original Johnny Quest, and hot damn i gotta tell ya, this is some kick-ass shit! Granted, by today's standards some of the ethnic characterizations or nonchalance towards environmental & wildlife considerations might not be considered very PC, but it's never mean-spirited in any capacity. Especially if one keeps in mind this was aired in 1964, near the peak of the Cold-War.
Created by comics vet Doug Wildey for Hanna-Barbera, the locales are exotic, the technology awesome, the adventures are fun and exciting, and the Bad Guys drown, catch on fire, or get blown up all the freaking time! Networks could never get away with this today. Y'know, usually when i watch old television for nostalgic reasons, it rarely holds up, but Johnny Quest is really quite solid. (I think it actually stands toe-to-toe with it's mutant grandchild, The Venture Bros.)
One thing cracked me up in a recent episode though... Johnny and Hadji get kidnapped, and the ransomer asks for $60,000. (What a small mind.) Anyway, Doctor Quest says, "But how can i raise $60,000?!!" What the fuck? This from the guy with tropical island research labs, hover craft, private live-in sailboats, personal jet-packs, giant laser cannons, etc etc.?? Then i dawned on me... duh. Cold War. High-tech. Do the math. Of course, he's got to be on retainer by the U.S. military, no two ways about it.
Sure the animation is limited, but still, this beats the crap out of most of it's competition of the day. (Or today, for that matter.) I mean, really, who can watch an entire season of Scooby Doo or the Jetsons? (Four-year-olds excluded.)
• It's come to our attention that we've got a new celebrity plug for Nate Powell's recent masterpiece, Swallow Me Whole. Turns out someone from the tv show Heroes? Her name is Brea Grant? Now, i've never seen a single episode of the show myself (i'm a wait-for-the-series-to-wrap, and then watch it all in one big go kind of guy), but after checking out the website of this absolutely stunningly-hot hottie, i think i'll jump the gun on that. How cool. (I wonder if she's looking for a Soul Mate?)
• Finally, a day late and a dollar short, here's some holiday art from Christmas and New Year's past.
By Aaron Renier:
By Brian Biggs:
January 9, 2009 / More →
• From a Grass Hut newsletter, i've learned that toy design team Gargamel is in town. This show comes highly recommended, if you'll be in Portland this weekend. It's gonna be packed: "We'll be handing out tickets/numbers anytime after noon on Friday. 6pm doors open and at 6:15 we'll call the first number and so on. For everybody else — around 8pm we will offer up the remaining stock, exclusives customs, ect online."
Here's a few sneaks, and more picks here...
Bwana will be debuting another one of his own kick-ass toys, Dolly the Dolphin, and what's more there will be guests Chanmen, Kiyoka Ikeda, Naoya Ikeda, and Koji Harmon bringing custom sofubi, paintings, exclusive releases.
Art shows don't get much better than this!
January 3, 2009 / More →
Just when a couple feet of snow melted from the last storm, the West Coast headquarters here in Portland got dumped on again last night. Then, driving around today i was pelted by a brutal shower of hailstones. Yeesh!
So, in any case, as per usual this time of year, it's been a slow week. Not much to report, except that almost twenty years after the fact i felt obligated to finally watch the highly touted television show Twin Peaks. (Spurred by my budding interest in episodic entertainment, rooted in a desire to create/oversee various iterations of web-specific content.) I'm roughly halfway done, and to be honest i was expecting to loath this. Well hellfire, anyway, but i love this so far! All of the noise i heard at the time about it being weird for weird's sake is downright wrong. Granted, it may have been complex for its time, but if anything, it may have been a blueprint for the currently hot trend of meta-television. That is, shows that take an entire season (or more) to tell a story. Kyle MacLachlan as the unflappable Special Agent Dale Cooper is a freaking hero for the ages. The rest of the cast, and the characters they play are spot-on. Plot unfolds at rapid pace, as the whodunit rolls along, all the while characters making growth from episode to episode. What really boggles, however, and something i don't associate with David Lynch, is the heart and triumph of the human spirit that shines through. Wow. Ahead of its time.
• Meanwhile, Top Shelf veteran David Yurkovich has recently self-published volume 2 of his superhero rumination Altercations. Altercations volume 1 was the very first book i ever read in the Yurkoverse, and i became an instant fan, thereafter publishing two collections of (remastered) previous material. It's terrific to see this finally complete, and i'm stoked to read it. If you like you men-in-tights flavored with a serious dose of humor and weird, check this out. Available at Indy Planet or by way of his own site, Sleeping Giant.
• And here is a bitchin' Batman illustration nabbed from Lukas Ketner's blog. This guy can draw. DIg this, and spread the good word.
• I'm out. Y'all have one hella kick-ass 2009!
December 24, 2008 / More →
Randy Meyers' Top Ten Graphic Lit books for 2008, at Contra Costa Times.
• Some recent holiday cards.
Center for Cartoon Studies sent their new holiday card, courtesy of James Sturm, art by Chris Wright.
Bill Kelter and Wayne Shellabarger. Read about the genesis of this timeless piece at the Veeps blog.
• Stripburger News!
The 48th issue of Stripburger features two special sections.
The first one introduces us to Dongery, a group of comics artists from Norway (Bendik Kaltenborn, Flu Hartberg, Sindre Goksoyr and Kristoffer Kjolberg).
The second sections reveals one of the youngest comics scene in Europe - that of Latvia (Anete Melece, Kaspars Groshevs and Ingrida Picukane). Also in the focus of this issue is Marco Corona, perhaps one of the most intriguing Italian cartoonists at this moment. Corona was interviewed by Paola Bristot.
Stripburger no. 48 also boasts an unusually high percentage of Slovene authors. Domen Finzgar makes his debut in this issue, while Damijan Sovec returns after a long absence with a series of travel comics. Other highlights of the issue include works by Olive Booger (France), Janek Koza (Poland), Tea Hvala (Slovenia), Gasper Rus (Slovenia) and the duo of Matej Lavrencic and Koco (Slovenia), to name just a few of them.
• B.ü.L.b comix, a non-profit making publishing house for independant graphic novels and comix based in Geneva, Switzerland, has just launched version 2.0 of the website and thought you'd be interested to visit it.
December 17, 2008 / More →
Top 100 People of 2008 list! Big ups, Alex!
• James Kochalka interviewed by Giant Robot, for his third Little Paintings show.
• Libby Egan took this snap while in Minneapolis over the Summer. Top Shelf love is everywhere!
December 9, 2008 / More →
i highly recommend attending the re-opening of Guapo Comics. They moved a couple blocks away, and are back in business. But wait, there's more!... This Saturday, Guapo Comics & Coffee celebrates the re-opening at their new location, along with a graphic novel release party for local cartoonists Jesse Reklaw (The Night of Your Life), Nicole Georges (Invincible Summer volume II), and Theo Ellsworth (Capacity). Joining them will be Julia Gfrörer, John Isaacson, and Sean Christensen for multimedia cartoonist readings, live drawing, and a comics social. Experience cutting edge comics on the crossroads of the strange yet personal -- the everyday fantastic -- what can only be described as the funhouse mirror of your lucid deja vu re-enacted for your pleasure. Plus an art show, book signing, beer, and cookies.
December 7, 2008 / More →
Topic of discussion — his brilliantly conceived and executed Library of American Comics. Terry and the Pirates, Little Orphan Annie, and Scorchy Smith have all seen gorgeous treatments (arguably the best ever) and starting soon, Dean will take over the Dick Tracy reprint series, and enlarge its size, bringing it up the the Terry book dimensions.
We live in a new Golden Age of classic comic strip reprints people (see also: Popeye, Peanuts, Dennis the Menace and Jules Feiffer from Fantagraphics; Walt and Skeezix from D & Q; Little Nemo, Little Sammy Sneeze, and Walt and Skeezix Color Sundays, from Sunday Press). We should all be thankful.
• I really dig the tiny little boutique here in Portland called Tender Loving Empire. Not only do they sell lots of nifty hand-made crafts and shit, but they create and produce cool stuff as well. AND they are a commercial screen-printing outfit as well.
You could do worse than visit their store (or the website, if you don't live in Portland), while you gift-shopping for your hipster friends.
Two books come especially highly recommended: Mike Bertino's Pinwheel, and the anthology Shitbeems On The Loose, featuring the likes of Luke Ramsey, Mike Bertino, Drew Beckmeyer, Ron Rege jr, Brent Harada, Hector Serna, jr., Thomas Crawford, Rusty Jordan, Matt Furie, Dave Nuss, RobynJordan, and Grant Reynolds.
• LOVE it!!
December 2, 2008 / More →
Tom McLean has left the Bags & Boards blog for Variety dot com. Bummer. But he's keeping the name and blogging on his own now, free from the constraints of his corporate masters. Whoo hoo! Tom knows his shit, people, so bookmark this site pronto. His links list alone is a marvel.
• Super-wonk Bill Kelter is back to his blogerific ways on the Veeps blog, after a brief post-election hiatus. And he delivers the goods, as always.
• NPR: Five Hefty Tomes to See You Through Your Turkey Coma. Almost a week late, but cool to see three of five NPR picks being Top Shelf fare: From Hell, Blankets, and Box Office Poison.
November 25, 2008 / More →
• Top Shelf 2.0 contributor Stef Lenk is part of a launch party to celebrate her new comic, Tea Time #2.
LAUNCH! TeaTime 2 and Brick Literary Journal 82: high literature, visual oddities, and gratuitous drinking at Mitzi's Sister.
1554 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario
Wednesday the 3rd December (doors at 7.30)
There will be readings and excellent company and drinks and books for sale too. As always, friends, strangers, and those appreciative of oddities are all welcome.
November 15, 2008 / More →
• Bwana Spoons' new Cosmos Killer toy!
• Max Estes is having a Christmas Sale at his website, Made By Max.
November 11, 2008 / More →
Giant Robot 2. 2062 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025. gr2.net. (310) 445-9276
Indie cartoonist James Kochalka is well known for having a raw, humorous, and powerful style and prolific pace; he draws one diary strip a day for his Web site, and still manages to create an ever-growing catalog of graphic novels. His range extends from the autobiographical (American Elf) to kid-friendly (Johnny Boo) to serious (The Cute Manifesto) to raunchy (SuperF*ckers) to iconic (Monkey vs. Robot). His comix work has won four Ignatz awards and one Harvey award. He is widely regarded as the inventor of the daily-diary comic strip, and has inspired countless younger artists.
The Burlington, VT-based artist has also released several CDs with his band, James Kochalka Superstar. His song "Britney's Silver Can" was named one of the 100 best songs of 2006 by Rolling Stone, and his song "Hockey Monkey" was used as the theme song for the Fox television sitcom The Loop.
For Little Paintings 3, Kochalka is supplementing his acrylic 2" x 2" paintings on 3" x 3" paper with a few that are comparatively large. "There are a few that are 4" x 4" and some that are 6" x 6". Still little compared with the rest of the paintings of the world, but they'll feel giant in the context of my world," he says. Some recurring themes include royal cats, adventurous blobs, and tumors, happy apples, and crazy worms.
The multitude will not be framed but are quite suitable for framing. "I'm kind of against posters. I think people should have real art made by real human hands in their homes" Kochalka says of his small and affordably priced paintings.
A reception from 6:30 to 10:00 on Saturday, November 15 will include a special performance of music composed by the artist on his Game Boy.
• Going back to APE, the weekend before the election (Whoo hoo OBAMA!!!)..., San Francisco was great fun (especially tending bar at Isotope — damn, i got myself pretty hammered),
• Meanwhile, this weekend just past Top Shelf exhibited (Leigh manned the table most of the weekend, since i was on Kid Watch) at the annual Portland book fair called Wordstock. A quick observation... Portland is widely (and justifiably) known as a book-loving city. The organizers promoted the heck out of this event. Flyers, posters, and exhibition catalogs have been anywhere and everywhere for the last six weeks. Heck, they even got the likes of John Hodgman, Lynda Barry and Alison Bechdel to come and read. And yet, the place was a ghost town virtually all weekend. Yes, the big-name panels were well attended, but the isles were barren. What gives?
In any case, i had fun in spite of myself. And i FINALLY picked up the stunning Local deluxe hardcover by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly. I'd read most of the issues as they were (slowly) coming out, but had yet to read the last three. Just finished these tonight after i tucked Carter into bed. Holy crap, this is such a terrific book. From concept, to execution. From content to packaging. Simply magnificent! Highly recommended.
• This is quite possibly the coolest fanboy shit i've EVER seen. (I used to be lead tenor in the high school jazz choir, AND a massive fanboy of all the movies referenced in this video — except for E.T. God, i hate that flick.)
October 31, 2008 / More →
Heading to Alternative Press Expo this weekend? Top Shelf's West Coast dream team, Leigh Walton and Brett Warnock, will be at tables 320-322 all weekend, together with the following creators:
--Jeffrey Brown (SULK #1 starring Bighead & Friends!)
--Renée French (THE TICKING, MICROGRAPHICA)
--Robert Goodin (THE MAN WHO LOVED BREASTS)
--Bill Kelter and Wayne Shellabarger (VEEPS: PROFILES IN INSIGNIFICANCE)
--Nate Powell (SWALLOW ME WHOLE)
--Liz Prince (DELAYED REPLAYS)
And don't forget to come by Isotope on Saturday night for Top Shelf Happy Hour at 8pm, leading into the Isotope Award for Minicomics! Brett Warnock will be shaking up the tasty drinks, while Nate Powell rocks a live art jam with Joshua W. Cotter! You can't miss it!
See you there, everybody!
October 28, 2008 / More →
10 Years of his incredibly influential American Elf daily diary strip. Wow, that's freaking cool as hell. Big ups to you, James!
• Jeff Lemire appears on the podcast Comic Geek Speak.
• Occasional Top Shelf freelancer Chris Ross had this to say, regarding his type decision on our awesome new book Veeps:
Veeps is set in a typeface called Adobe Caslon Pro. From my research, I found that Benjamin Franklin, in addition to being a ladykiller drunk, and perennial not-veep, was a printer. He had two favorite typefaces: Baskerville (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baskerville), which many typesetters of the day called "illegible" and a typeface called Caslon. And it was Caslon that Franklin chose when he typeset the mass-produced "Declaration of Independence." The unique properties in Veeps are the ligatures, which I've jumped up to eleven to reach for the hyperbolic nature of the text. It's noticeable as being archaic and boosie, but once you finish the introduction, you definitely get in on the joke. This specific typeface, Adobe Caslon Pro, is the closest and most complete recreation of the typeface that I could find. When I read Bill's words, and saw Wayne's portraits, and saw what Brett had in mind with the decorative elements, this whimsical voice of you three (plus the specter of Staros) came out, Borg-like. It sounded like Caslon.
• Speaking of Veeps, check out this extensive interview with Bill and Wayne by Tim O'Shea.
• And just to add some color to this post... YAM author Corey Barba does more than cute kid's stuff. He's also done some racy adult entertainment (with the Fantagraphics porn line Eros, for example). Here's a boss little image titled Lipstick Bikini.