Hey Bartender! pg. 20

jeff lemire loves the capes!

March 13, 2008 / More →

• Here's some terrific Kirby Love, in a pin-up featuring Kamandi, Sandman, OMAC, and The Demon. Thanks for sending this my way, Mr. Jeff Lemire.

• Wish i could attend this event!

From the desk of Eric Reynolds at Fantagraphics.

“THE FUN NEVER STOPS!” WITH DREW FRIEDMAN:
FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKSTORE & GALLERY IN SEATTLE, OPENING MARCH 27.

“Drew Friedman isn't just a brilliant artist. He takes you to a place. He takes you back in time. He makes you smell the stale cigarettes and cold brisket and you say thank you for the pleasure.” — Sarah Silverman

Drew Friedman is among the most notorious illustrators and cartoonists in America. According to Entertainment Weekly, “He holds a marvelously warped lens up to crusty politicians and debauched celebrities. A good-natured misanthrope with an obsessive style and a sardonic tongue, Drew Friedman is one of the country’s sharper political artists.” Freidman will appear in Seattle for the first time at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery for a book signing and exhibition of his original artwork on Thursday, March 27 from 5:00 to 8:00 PM.

“The Fun Never Stops!” exhibition features 17 portraits meticulously rendered in Friedman’s singular style. Included are political figures such as “McCain as Popeye,” “John Kerry’s Inauguration,” and “Really Rich Rudy” as well as pop culture icons like Frank Sinatra, Woody Allen, and Alfred E. Newman. In addition, Fantagraphics Books produced a limited edition silkscreen print featuring George W. Bush as Slim Pickens in the apocalyptic finale to “Dr. Strangelove.” Friedman’s portraits are alternately savage satires or reverential renderings – and frequently both, as in his series of “Old Jewish Comedians,” recently published in two volumes by Fantagraphics Books.

Friedman’s illustrious career has included comics work published in Art Spiegelman’s RAW, R. Crumb’s Weirdo and MAD Magazine, and frequent illustrations in National Lampoon, the New York Times, the New York Observer, among countless other publications. He was the recipient of the 2001 Rueben Award for newspaper illustration. Friedman’s work has been collected by Seattle’s Fantagraphics Books in The Fun Never Stops!: An Anthology of Comic Art 1991 – 2006, Old Jewish Comedians, MORE Old Jewish Comedians, and Warts and All.

Opening Reception and Book signing
Thursday, March 27, 5:00 – 8:00 PM

Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery
1201 S. Vale St. (at Airport Way S.)
Seattle, WA 206.658.0110


spring is coming...

March 5, 2008 / More →

I can smell it outside as the plum trees on my street flood my olfactory senses. Oh baby, i can't wait for some warm weather again.

• Big ups to Pat Moriarity, who just recently won a couple Cartoonist Northwest "TOONIE" awards. I've been a longtime fan of Pat's bigfoot stylings. In fact, produced an amazing wraparound cover for the very first perfect bound book i ever published, Top Shelf #5.

Pat writes, "Unbelievably, I WON, in the category of illustration, and then later that night the big one, the coveted GOLDEN TOONIE, reserved for giants like Berkeley Breathed, Lynne Johnston, Peter Bagge and Jim Woodring.

"I believe that all cartoonists crave affirmation, especially from their peers, and I'm no different. So if you are a cartoonist who happened to vote for me, thanks."

• Here's Jeffrey Brown's killer flyer for the upcoming Emerald City Con in Seattle.

And speaking of Jeffrey Brown, here's a design he made for the character Microwave, from the series of Incredible Change-Bots toys coming out from Devil's Due.

And finally, some sketchbook pages from Jeffrey's Sulk series, which start hitting stores the Fall.
page of deciding how to draw the character ‘rabasaku’

page of random sketches getting into the spirit of the book

early cover idea

early sketches for the character ‘eldark’

adjusted script for last part of book.(note: I erased the script lines for the section of pages showing how the fight ends...)

early character design ideas

reference page for mixed martial arts moves and positions

early character design ideas

• Some Renee French tasty goodness. First, a random image that showed up in my inbox. No explanation given. None needed. Wow.

And here is Renee's first draft of the Soap Lady reprint we'll be releasing early in 2009!

Ian Lynam (who laid out the Peanuts Tribute section in Top Shelf Asks the Big Questions, and is the designer on the forthcoming Top Shelf art book by Bwana Spoons, titled Welcome to Forest Island), has been working on a coffee table art book, titled Parallel Strokes, for six years. It's now available, and comes highly recommended. Ian is a world-class designer, as well as one of the brightest intellects on art, typography and design i've ever had the pleasure to know.

"Parallel Strokes is a collection of interviews with twenty-plus contemporary typeface designers, graffiti writers, and lettering artists around the world. The book is introduced with a comprehensive essay charting the history of graffiti, its relation to type design, and how the two practices relate in the wider context of lettering.

"Interviews within include conversations with pan-European type design collective Underware, Japanese type designer Akira Kobayashi, American graffiti writer and fine artist Barry McGee/Twist, German graffiti writers Daim and Seak, American lettering artist, graphic designer and design educator Ed Fella, among others. Parallel Strokes is an enquiry into the history, context, and development of lettering today, both culturally approved and illicit."

• LOCALS ONLY! If you're in Portland tomorrow nighth (Thursday), check these out! Lots of great events.

• 11:11 Make a Wish: A Clock Exhibition (Via Andrice Arp.)

First Thursday, March 6, 6:00 p.m. All clocks will be working, unless they are broken.

There will be clocks by: Andrice Arp, Scott Campbell, Sean Christensen, Chris Cilla, Chowchessna, Jo Dery, Eatcho, Sara Edward-Corbett, Theo Ellsworth, Susie Ghahremani, Jason Graham, Levon Jihanian, Aidan Koch, James McShane, Emily Nilsson, Jennifer Parks, Robert Pellicer, Scrappers, Cin Shepherd, Lance Simmons, Brad Simon, Zack Soto, Brad Strain, Daria Tessler, Alisha Wessler, David Youngblood, and Daniel Zvereff.

Pony Club. 625 NW Everett St #105. Portland OR.

• MEANWHILE...: An Exhibition of Comic Book Art, featuring artists from the Stumptown Comics Fest (Via Garret Izumi)
(Art by Larry Marder)

First Thursday, March 6, 6:00 p.m.

PCPA and the Sequential Art Gallery present MEANWHILE...: An Exhibition of Comic Book Art, featuring artists from the Stumptown Comics Fest, a collection of comic book pages, covers and crossover art. Featuring artwork by Ryan Alexander-Tanner, Jon Ascher, Matthew Clark, Paul Guinan, Seamus Heffernan, Garret Izumi, Indigo Kelleigh, Carolyn Main, Kip Manley, Jenn Manley Lee, Larry Marder, Dylan Meconis, Erika Moen, Bill Mudron, Sarah Oleksyk, Jesse Reklaw, Craig Thompson, Jim Valentino and John C. Worsley.

The ArtBar and Bistro inside the Antoinette Hatfield Hall. 1111 SW Broadway at Main St. Portland, OR.

• Mr. T Group Theme Show. (Via Jennifer "Juanita" Kenworth)

First Thursday, March 6, 6:00 p.m. at Moshi Moshi.

A lot of great people are contributing pieces and a portion of the proceeds will go the Opal Creek Scholarship fund for Buckman Elementary School. This is so some kids that may not otherwise be able to afford it can go on a great field trip to Opal Creek and have a great time while learning something worthwhile.

Moshi Moshi. 916 W Burnside St. Portland, OR.


order this book!

March 1, 2008 / More →

The new Diamond Previews (March, 2008) is out, and i beseech you all to turn your attention to page 203. Under the AdHouse Books banner, please note the title Skyscrapers of the Midwest, by one Josh Cotter. Twisted as a mo-fo, Cotter's comics get under your skin, in the best way. This is a hardcover priced at a mere $20. BUY THIS BOOK. Advance order it from your favorite local retailer. If they can't or won't, then go to the AdHouse website to fulfill your jones.

• In the better-late-than-never department, i finally tore myself away from Season Three of Deadwood, and dipped into the ever-growing pile of comics on my office coffee-table, and read Papercutter #5 & 6, from Tugboat Press. Greg Means continues his great anthology in fine fine form.

Issue Five sports a sweet cover by the new Kaz (Strzepek), who also leads off in between the covers, with a B-side from his Mourning Star saga. Next up, a tasty slice of pure Liz Prince goodness. Then Bwana Spoons wraps up with a zany strip with an appearance by the heavy metal studs in the band Soft Crusher including Steven the Bat on smashing thunder on the drums. (Images below are different color ways for Bwana's super kick-ass Steven the Bat vinyl.)

Issue Six sports a terrific cover by the always-improving Alec Longstreth. His lead off strip, "Summer Stock," is i think his best work to date. Ken Dahl (come on, is "Ken Doll" his real name?) throws down with another stellar performance. (His Monsters comic book is one of t he most disturbing yet riveting comics i've read in years.) Finally, Julia (Fart Party) Wertz and Laura Park provide a sweet coming-of-age story called "Public Hair." Both of the crazy chicas have bucketloads of talent.

As with all issues of Papercutter, the inside covers feature sublime artwork by our very own webmaster Nate Beaty.

I think one could safely make the argument that Papercutter is the vanguard of indy comics, and that across the board, we'll be seeing lots more of every single contributing artist involved.

Greg Means, you are my hero.

• Jeremy Tinder has been a busy lad lately. Besides featuring little ol' me a guest in one of his classes (via my first video-conference interview), he's got a solo show up at Rotofugi, and interview at The New Yinzer, and a boss painting in the recent Stan Lee Tribute show.


• Picked up Kyle Baker's new The Bakers graphic novel, "Babies & Kittens, and as per usual, does not disappoint. Baker is one of the very rare cartoonists who's entire (creator-owned) oeuvre to date is entirely and completely recommended. Maybe i'm a little biased, being the dad of a 3-year old boy, but these continuing adventures of the Baker Family on one hand, nail the nuances of parenting, while at the same time regaling over-the-top tales that no parent could imagine in their wildest nightmare — a classic Looney Tunes madcap day-in-the-life. Brilliant!


comix apocalypse rawks!!!

February 19, 2008 / More →

Ezra Clayton Daniles has taken his infamous Comics Art Battle ONLINE!!!

These epic events have always been a hoot live and in the flesh, and the online version kick ass too. Whoo hoo!

•Â Here's the most recent Diamond Previews ad for Top Shelf. After our Winter hiatus, we're starting to get some real nifty books off to the printer. This month, Liz Prince's sophomore effort, Delayed Replays, and David Chelsea's 24x2, which collects two of his NINE 24-Hour comics. They're all very excellent, and hopefully sales on this book will be enough to do more.

• Alan David Doane has an excellent interview with Robert Scott, from Comickazi Comics in San Diego, at Comic Book Galaxy. Robert is also the head honcho at the CBIA (Comic Book Industry Alliance). The interview provides another considered response to the current debate on pre-selling comics at conventions.

I have an idea about this, that i think (i hope) might work for everybody, but first, one more time i have to take umbrage with one of Robert's comments from the interview.

Scott says, "It really shouldn't be that hard to understand that if they are already struggling so much selling this work in the DM, that pre-selling into that market is going to capture sales that would've been made in DM shops but unfortunately most publishers seem to feel that their need trumps everything and everyone else. I believe this is shortsighted and destructive both to the publisher and retailers, regardless of how much money it brings in the short term because it closes off avenues for growth."

I have never disparaged the job of a direct market retailer. I know scores of retailers personally, most of whom i count as friends and comrades-in-arms in an industry that in the best of times, is difficult to navigate. Until there is at least limited returnability for backlist titles and such, direct market retailers are caught between a rock and a hard spot, literally rolling the proverbial dice on a weekly basis, as a matter of fact, hoping they at least break even on their investment.

I clearly understand, and appreciate this. Now, i can't speak for any other publisher (some, like Fantagraphics claim they operate conventions at a loss), but at Top Shelf, our A-List authors can often sell numbers on a given book, that almost rivals the actual direct market advance purchase order on said book. (That certainly doesn't bode well on the support [in orders] we get from the majority of retailers.)

For us, convention debuts truly are a matter of survival. We've stated publicly many times that roughly a third of our annual income comes from convention sales. And launch books play a significant part in that. This is simply not a practice we can afford to eliminate. Period.

NO retailer could make the claim, that in the case of Top Shelf, we're stealing from our own benefactors, because not even the combined amount of our total direct market retail support (in advance purchase orders) for 90% of the books in our line, come close to break-even. Without decent advance orders, we bleed money, and sell at shows as a matter of survival. We would be out of business if we didn't do otherwise.

I won't comment on the aesthetic value of our own line of comics and graphic novels, but i can say that lots of people besides ourselves have made wads of money from our A-List titles. Is Robert saying he would rather not have ANY Top Shelf books to make money from at all, were we to go out of business? That makes no sense whatsoever. No Blankets, From Hell, or Lost Girls to make handsome profits from?

O.k, enough of the bitch-fest.

I propose a volunteer program along the lines Robert talked about, wherein as much as possible, publishers and the CBIA work together and the publishers give advance notice to the CBIA, when they become reasonably aware that a book might launch at a particular show. It's not always an easy task, though, because the publishers are at the whims of fate, as they wait for copies to arrive directly from the printer … often times from China or Hong Kong. Publishers might only know this information a week or two in many cases (or less).

Moreover, these publishers should build-in to their projected convention inventory needs a modicum of overage dedicated to selling (at wholesale, of course) to retailers in the city of the convention in question. The advance notice would allow for retailers to inform customers to notify their staff and clientele.

The onus on the member publishers would be the need for honesty and transparency concerning debut books. That said, the onus on the CBIA would then be to first contact the member publishers in advance of a show (maybe three or four weeks ahead), and simply ask; "Do you have any debut books at the show? Any attending authors we should know about?" Copies of these launch books would then be available either before the show opens to the public during set-up (why the gods created the mobile phone), or at any point during the show.

Chris Staros and myself have ALWAYS honored a similar system, of not only of selling our debut books to retailers at the show itself, but also at a 60% discount! For my two cents, a system like this wouldn't deviate from our own method of operation much at all. And i'd wager that many or most of my publisher friends would gladly participate.

I absolutely LOVE Robert's ideas. Advance knowledge of an attending creator allowing retailers to build creator-based displays is genius. So is the idea of producing book plates for the retailers only, for their stores.

I believe there can indeed be a middle ground here, folks.

• Michael Golden has an exhibit up at the Society of Illustrators. So if you're in Manhattan this month, and as much of a Golden fanboy as myself, get yer butt on over there and check it out!

From the press release:
THE paramount club of renowned artists for over a hundred years, and boasting a membership that at various times included such talents as Montgomery Flagg and N.C. Wyeth, the Society of Illustrators has also become the artistic home of many of today's top sequential art illustrators.

A member since 2007, Golden was inducted on the same night as Neal Adams! Michael's artwork is currently being displayed in the third floor gallery, right next to the likes of Rockwell, Lyndecker and Parrish.

The Michael Golden exhibit shows a spectrum of work, and includes a six page sequential segment entitled "The Sniper," which is one of the first appearance of his influential "The 'Nam" characters. In addition, the Golden works include canvas pieces of his X-Men and Jurassic Park pieces and much more.

Here's more fancy art by my favorite comic book artist EVER!!

• I blogged about Ed Piskor's book Wizziwig just recently, and now Ed informs me the story can be read at his website. i really really really dig this work, and think it's Ed's best, most ambitious work to date.

Can't wait to see more!!


comics lifestyle...

February 13, 2008 / More →

a new update from John Weeks in Cambodia, at his fabulous Comics Lifestyle blog.

Craig Thompson hits yet another one out of the park. (Of course.) Here is this year's Stumptown Comics Fest poster. Take note: Stumptown has moved up from it's early Winter time frame, to April 26 and 27, filling the void of APE's Spring engagement.

• Here's an insanely cool image i lifted from the Comics Alliance website, drawn by Eric Tan, for a benefit for The Hero Initiative, organized by Golden Apple Comics. All part of an event called Under the Influence: A Tribute to Stan Lee.

• Sadly, i heard through the grapevine that John Anderson's Comics Alliance website is now defunct. You can find stuff still archived there, and i really hope these stay available. Our little world of comics is so small, that a site like this that contributed a great deal to our community in such a short period of time should live on, at least in archival form. Big ups to John and all the contributors to the site, including Kevin Panetta, Ian Sattler, Greg Bennett, Wayne Beamer, et al.

• Scott Campbell continues to produce astounding work.

Here is his "alternative" cover art for the upcoming dvd release of King of Kong,

This motherfucker can draw, baby!! Check out his blog for more happenings.

From the same deranged group of killer cartoonists, here is Nathan Stapley's cover for the new issue of the anthology Hickee.

• Issue #3 of Marc Mason's Comics Waiting Room is now live, and worth a visit!

• Tom Hart's Hutch Own comic strip is fucking AWESOME! So much so, i heartily recommend it for nothing less than a Harvey nomination!! Check out this sampler page he made, to see more.

Tom writes, "Here you'll see some recent developments like the Rockabilly Kid, Rebelville, Hutch Owen in France, the Dalai Lama goes commercial and the outsourcing to India and China of the writing of TV shows... And also what is currently running and begins today - a long story about a furry mascot ("The Unpajamable Snowman") that morphs into a couple different types of monsters, then goes and wrecks the white house and... well, that you'll have to read in real time."

Download the Harvey Ballot here.

• Clearing out server space as well as my over-crowded desktop.. more random stuff...

Here's another old Christmas card from Center for Cartoon Studies. I think it's by Rich Tommaso.

Pencils of an old pin-up (is that Big Barda?) from Dean Haspiel.

A beautiful cover for a Spanish-language edition of Dylan Horrocks' seminal Hicksville.


guapo turns two!

February 6, 2008 / More →

Portland retailer Guapo Comics turns turned two years old on January 29, and they're having a party this Saturday night. Well done, Allie and Jeremy!

• Alan Moore signs Lost Girls at Gosh Comics in London. Cheers to Joel Meadows for the link.

• Renee French rocks! Here's some art from her upcoming book by Picture Box.
Uncle Charles

Uncle Henry

• Charlito and Mr. Phil interviewed inkstud Jeff Lemire in the 107th edition of Indie Spinner Rack! It's awesome.

• Another podcast interview, with Alex Robinson, can be found at Global Comics.

• Lemire also gets interviewed at Tom O'Shea's new website, Talking with Tim.

•Â A beautiful belated greeting from Leela Corman and Tom Hart. Thanks, kids!

• Matt Kindt interviewed at Steve Duin's blog at Oregon Live.

• Even More bitchin' Michael Golden art... this promoting Golden's "Special Guest" status for the upcoming Atlanta Comics Expo.

• From the desk of David Yurkovich:
Mantlo: A Life in Comics, Free Download on Wowio

"Here's an excellent chance for YOU to help comics writer Bill Mantlo (who wrote hundreds of comic stories for titles including Spider-Man, Hulk, Human Fly, Micronauts, ROM, Cloak and Dagger), and best of all, it won't cost you a dime!

"David Yurkovich's 2007 career retrospective of Bill (Mantlo: A Life in Comics) is now available as a free download at Wowio.com. Every time the PDF is downloaded, Bill will benefit directly. As you may know, Wowio features banner advertising. The advertisers pay whenever a book is downloaded. It's that simple. All proceeds (100%) are going directly toward Bill's care. It's WIN WIN!

"If you missed the print version of the magazine, here's your chance to obtain the digital edition and at the same time help out Mr. Mantlo.

"Click here to download the magazine. Special thanks to Bill Williams at Lone Star Press for managing the project and making this happen."

•Â Oh, and here's some kick-ass fanboy art (with two of my favorite Marvel characters) by Frank Cho. I think it's a cover for an upcoming issue of Ultimates Vol. 3. (With some ass-covering art added. Natch.) But really, does it matter? It screams (Druuna artist) Serpieri to me. Fucking killer!!


January 31, 2008

More →

• Here's a sweet new piece by Jeffrey Brown, for a t-shirt design promoting Indie Island at Heroes Con in North Carolina.

Jeff was also the COVER FEATURE interview subject for the most recent Comics Journal, #287. And there's even a (GASP!) positive review in there for one of our books; none other than Austrian cartoon maestro Nicloas Mahler's delighthful Lone Racer. Whoo hoo!

• From the desk of Dylan (Sparkplug) Williams:
"I’m going to be teaching at two workshops on comic books, coming up soon at the Independent Publishing Resource Center. People can come to the first one for free but the second costs (I’ll try and make it worth it). Take a look at the IPRC website."

Monday Feb. 4, 7pm
Artist Talk: Jesse Reklaw & Dylan Williams (at IPRC)
Cost: Free, limited space, register
Free presentation from local Portlanders who have made a career out of making the art they love. Each working artist in this series will share his or her own experiences in a specific Creative Field.

Jesse Reklaw is a published weekly comic strip artist (slowwave.com), and Dylan Williams is an art comic book publisher and illustrator (sparkplugcomicbooks.com)

Monday Feb.18, 6:30-9:30pm
Drawing Self-Published Comics (at IPRC)
Cost:$25 members/$40 non-members
This workshop covers the basics of getting your voice out in comic book form, anticipating self-publishing. Learn how to draw with reproduction in mind and many tricks of the trade. The class covers lettering and design specifically as well as basic drawing techniques. We'll be drawing a comic story in the workshop.
Instructor: Dylan Williams

• I may have mentioned this item before. If so, oh well... the new volume of Glomp is out (#9), and it continues to impress. A stunning anthology out of Finland … featuring mostly European cartoonists, as well as American ink-studs Lilli Carre and Anders Nilsen … this little arty anthology that could easily holds its own in this art-brut camp against the likes of old stalwarts NON (which i believe is defunct) and Kramers Ergot, or anything by Picture Box.

I'm not sure where to buy it in stores, but i do know that we'll have a handful for sale on the convention circuit this year. Get 'em while you can.

• Matt Rota, illustrator extraordinaire, has updated his website. This guys has some delightful chops... worth a look.

Lizz Lunney sent me a terrific flip mini-comic called Tofu & Cats/A Dinosaur Tale. I really dig her minimalist (almost Porcellino-like) chops, and her wonderful upbeat stories. I hope we see more of her work.

After some googling, i've found that one can order her work from an online distro called Parcell Press.

• Eric Reynolds chimes in as the voice of reason at the Fantagraphics website, on the dubious retailer argument that convention debuts screws them.

• Serbia rocked Aussie Open...

Well, a Serbian won the Australian Open, and while i dig the game of young Novak Djokovic, i was really bummed that his countrywoman Ana Ivanovic couldn't rise to the challenge in her match against Sharapova. Like Novak before her though, i see a superstar on the rise in the beautiful Ana, and predict several Grand Slam titles for her in the years to come.

It was the Men's Final though that had me glued to the television into the wee hours of the morning, on a night no less when i had to get up at the crack of dawn with The Kid. Newcomer and the 38th-ranked Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga stormed onto the tennis scene with his ace forehand, and an unassuming charm that had the crowd, the announcers, and myself in love with this guy.

Here's a nice piece about Tsonga at the AussieOpen website.

Djokovic was acting kind of like a dick during the match at times, but boy did he regain his own charming form when he accepted his trophy. Well done Novak.

I'm just happy that the killer crusher Federer was NOT present in the Final. This guy has been the undisputed master for several years now, and is rapidly closing in on Sampras for Grand Slam titles... GREAT to see new blood challenging him.


some fine new booty...

January 24, 2008 / More →

i've picked up, or been given, some real gems of late.

• The new Strapazin arrived via post today. The theme is boats/ships/the ocean. Can't read German, but holy god, it so does not matter with this magazine. Ostensibly a mixed-bag anthology of original comics content and comics reviews, when you get down to it, it's an Art Book, a gallery, a veritable potpourri of stunning art, comics, and illustration. To be sure, i really have no idea to get this in the U.S. If any retailers out there stock this, let me know and maybe i can get you some sales.

The cover design and illustration by Laura Jurt is terrific.

Steve Rude: Art in Motion. I've been a giant fan of Steve "The Dude" Rude since he crashed the comics scene with a bang, with his and Mike Baron's great Nexus back in the day. He's so good and so committed, that almost across the board, anything he touches is gold. I was wary when i first saw this book on the shelf. As often as not, many of these sort of monographs can turn out lame, or worse, butt ugly. I'm happy to say, this book rocks. Dude fans keep for eyes peeled for this baby.

Olle Eksell: Swedish Graphic Designer. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Beautiful. I nicked this cover image from a fellow blogger. (See link.) Check out this link at Happy Mundane for a series of digital snaps from this wonderful design art book.

Street Sketch Book, edited by Tristan Manco. I'll be up front about this; while i've never had any beef of any sort with it, neither have i had any real interest in Street Art (re: graffiti). I admire the context and lifestyle of the bulk of the practitioners, but the work itself doesn't float my boat. Then along comes this book, "Inside the Journals of International Street and Graffiti Artists" to rock my world. A visual cocktail for any fan of contemporary art. (Yet one more feather in the cap for Chronicle Books.)

• And big ups to legendary local retailer Reading Frenzy, for stocking these last two items. From the ashes of the once vibrant print zine scene in the pre-blogosphere 90s, RF has been in an ongoing evolution, constantly redefining itself to stay alive in an ever decreasing world of print media. The last few years have had ups and downs, but in the last year or two, i'm happy to report that they again have created an eclectic, interesting, and auteur-friendly shopping experience.

• Fabulous new interview with James Kochalka by Gabe Bullard over at the Playback website.

• Former intern Brendan Wright interviews, why ME on his blog The Wright Opinion.

• • • NOT COMICS • • •

• Chalmers Johnson throws down at TomDispatch with some sobering statistics about the ongoing War/Defense Economy and it's crippling long-term affect on the our nation. (This is a bleak assessment, and in a just world is exactly the kind of stuff that should be plainly spelled out to all citizens.)

(Example: our military spending is more than the rest of the world combined.)

• On a lighter, and much more hopeful note, Ana Ivanovic from Serbia has made it to the Australian Open Finals, matching up against the Russian Maria Sharapova. This should be a great match. Sharapova is so annoying with her on-court demeaner, but she's playing with fire. Ivanovic, on the other hand, is a goddess. Beautiful and deadly. I think i'm in love.

On the men's side, i predict Djokovic (Serbia) and Federer (Switzerland) in the Final. Djokovic might win two sets, but if he makes it to the fifth set, Federer will pounce on him for the kill, without mercy. Oh, and boy would i love to be wrong about this. Love Federer's play, but i loathe dynasties in any sport. Djokovic has a huge game and is so much fun on the court.

Tennis fans should be pleased, no matter the outcome. I say Go Serbia!


james kochalka superstar

January 19, 2008 / More →

...had a small role in this killer music video by a band called Scrabble. James wrote:

"Last time I was in San Francisco, I ended up drawing this diary comic strip about a guy I met. Well, it turned out he was in a rock band, and the rock band is pretty awesome and they made a video and now my diary strip is in the video. The song is "Emily, I" and the band is Scrabbel. Here's the video on YouTube."

• More sweet art from Michael Golden. This is promoting the Phoenix Comic Con, January 25-27.

• An excellent review of Tom Hart's beautiful, understated masterpiece Banks/Eubanks can be read here at Comic Book Bin.

Tom is hands-down one of the single most under-rated North American cartoonists in our field. If you're not familiar with his work, then you've no right to call yourself anything close to being part of the comics cognoscenti.

• From the desk of Comics Historian Craig Yoe:

"Starting Friday January 17 there will be a new feature on the Arf Lovers Blog...THE FLYING FLICK! Not only that, but this new weekly segment will be hosted by an exciting new superhero...THE FLYING FLICK! Every Friday there will be weird and wonderful flicks, i.e. incredible videos related to the history of comics and cartoons. And quirky and quickie flicks that are plain nutty FUN!

"What Doll Man is to Mondays, D.J. David B. is to Tuesdays and Wacky Wonder Woman is to Wednesday THE FLYING FLICK will be to Fridays!

"Marvel and DC are rumored to have a rule that the word "FLICK" can't be used in their comic book scripts. They're worried that it might be misread as a dirty word. I have no such morals or sense of responsibility. :)"


January 11, 2008

More →

At the Onion website. Oh. My. God. Jimmy Carter on FIRE!!

•Â Steve Lafler has posted a fun piece called "Is Print Dead, or Does it Just Smell Funny?" on his blog. It features myself, Jesse Recklaw, and Dylan Williams among others. The piece is slated to run in the multi cultural arts/music mag out of Chicago, ALARM.

• From the desk of Eric Reynolds:

"Don't miss “REBEL VISIONS: The Underground Comix Revolution” opening this Saturday, January 12 from 11:30 to 8:00 PM at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery in Seattle. This colorful art show will complement “R. Crumb’s Underground” exhibition opening January 26 at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle.

"Organized by comix historian, author and archivist Patrick Rosenkranz, in association with Fantagraphics resident curator Larry Reid, “REBEL VISIONS” features original artwork, artifacts and relix from masters of the underground era. Highlights include a previously unseen original drawing by Rick Griffin, recently discovered by L. A. collector Greg Escalante; rarely viewed original art by feral genius S. Clay Wilson; and locally created original artwork by the legendary Greg Irons, who followed his underground work with a prolific career as a tattoo artist working at the storied Seattle Tattoo Emporium prior to his untimely death in 1984."

For more info (store locations, etc.), head to the Fantagraphics website.


yeah!

January 8, 2008 / More →

Yeah, The Spurg is back, and Comics Reporter is online again!! I've really missed this blog … easily a favorite, and my only "must-read daily" comics website. Lot's of stuff to catch up on, including great interviews with cartoonist Frank Santoro, Eric (Fantagraphics) Reynolds, Chris (AdHouse) Pitzer, Karen (Vertigo) Berger, and pop-culture writer and bon vivant Sean T. Collins.

• Jeff Lemire's wife Lesley Anne made this fabulous "action figure" of his character Lester, from the graphic novel Tales from the Farm. Killer!

Jeff has also drawn this beautiful cover for our annual Top Shelf Sampler, this year's 2008 edition.

• Some neat art by web comix contributor Lode Devroe.

• Dash Shaw's new strip is now being serialized on a weekly schedule on his website. Dash is one of the most engaging cartoonists to come around the pike in a long while, and certainly one of the few who challenges the formal limits of the medium.

• Got this in an email from Wayne Shellabarger. Great stuff.

"Here's a provocative Jimmy Olsen page that I've wrestled with for years. Like a Marcel Duchamp, an 11 minute Bob Dylan song, or a comon dollar bill, it's "right there" on the surface but impossible to reduce to one singular meaning. The mystic power of ancient rituals and symbols collide with crass mass produced images working in tandem solely to bail Jimmy out of a minor back-alley scrape with cheap, maize-phobic hoods. Product placement? Did the writer have a giant bowl of canned corn at 2am, later waking on the floor near his bed with terrifying rarebit-like visions of fantastic terror? Truly revolutionary in its pop-culture vest, any serious analysis dead-ended by a maddeningly deflective Warhol-like non-response in the Jimmy's Pen-Pals page."

• Bill's Kelter's new VEEPS website/blog kicks ass! (Ostensibly created to promote Bill and Wayne's upcoming masterpiece VEEPS, this blogs plans to be an evolving commentary on all things political that catch their fancy.)

• How much does Nate Duke, a fan working right now at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica as a power plant operator, supplying power for the 1000+ people there (and a part of the National Science Foundation), love Top Shelf? Check it out. We're representing on all seven continents now!! (Thanks to Chris Staros for the info... Chris' first contribution to the Top Shelf blog!!)




feliz ano neuvo!

January 1, 2008 / More →

2008 is upon us. Just in time for me to get a cold.

I've been doing so much family stuff, that i don't have much fodder for the blog. So i think i'll continue to run some of the nice art i've been receiving throughout the years.

From Ulf K.


Brian Biggs

Dean Haspiel

Jean Bourguignon


Christmas night is here...

December 26, 2007 / More →

I have to say, i really do love Christmas. It must have been my Mom who gave me the bug, but for a pagan/agnostic guy like myself, there's an almost magical something that hangs in the air, which no other Holiday does for me.

Here in Portland we had flurries of snow for a few hours this afternoon, but alas, none of it stuck to the ground. Hope all of you readers out there are enjoying this festive day.

• Some dude from Brisbane, Australia (where the gentleman raconteur Eddie Campbell also lives), who goes under the moniker Snoogans, has a bitching tattoo of and drawn by James Kochalka. Kick ass!


• January is Top Shelf Month at the Comic Book Bin! This is great news. So bookmark this page and head back there soon. They're also having some Top Shelf fun at their Facebook page. (Something this old man has never seen.)

• I love the back-matter in Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' brilliant series Criminal. (Along with Walking Dead, the ONLY comics i buy knowing that i'll also pick up the trade paperback later on down the road.)

I haven't even read this second arch of the series yet, but i've devoured the stuff in the back, and on Ed's recommendation i picked up and watched Scott Frank's superb neo-noir, psychological thriller / bank-heist flick called The Lookout.

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in the follow-up film to his breakout roll in Brick, The Lookout hits all the right notes. It's criminal (no pun intended) that this film didn't make more of a splash upon its release. If you're looking for slam-bang action, stay away; but if you like excellent acting, taught scripts, and an engaging crime story, be advised to check this out. A great review can be read here at Dvd Talk.

• Finally, here is a new Christmas e-card from Gregory Benton, and the last of my archival Christmas jpegs from years past.

Derek Kirk Kim

James Kochalka

Dean Haspiel

Max Estes

(Not exactly sure, but this looks like Joseph Lambert)


with a corncob pipe and a button nose...

December 22, 2007 / More →

ITEM! It's not too often i run straight press releases, but when the event warrants i've got no problem at all doing so. This one, for my great friend Bwana Spoons, one of the world's nicest guys, and most amazing creative minds.

Bwana Spoons Art Show at Giant Robot New York

HOW TO DIG A HOLE
December 8, 2007 - January 9, 2008
Reception: Saturday, December 8, 6:30 pm - 10:00 pm
437 East 9th Street
New York NY 10009

Spoons is a Portland-based artist whose freewheeling style was developed under the influence of underground comics, '60s rock posters, and Japanese rubber monster movies. Starting out with stapled-and-folded zines like My Friend the Micronaut and Ain't Nothing Like Fuckin' Moonshine in the early '90s, Spoons has become a regular in the Northwest street art and indie music scene. Endangered animals caught in mid-thought, kung-fu wizards with gravity-defying eyebrows, and swirling psychedelic backgrounds are only some of the elements found in the well-composed anarchy of his paintings and sculpture. He is also involved in the Grass Hut art collective and gallery.

Although the show is called “How to Dig a Hole,” the new paintings, illustrations, and sculptures by Spoons actually address how to get out of one. "What do I fill it with?” he asks. “Blood, guts, tears, dirt, love, and paint.”

Giant Robot has been promoting new art and artists since 1994, first with a magazine and then in galleries. The publication celebrated its 50th issue in 2007 with an art show at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. Currently it presents art shows on a monthly basis in its L.A., San Francisco, and New York City locations.

A reception for Spoons will be held from 6:30 to 10:00 on Saturday, January 12. For more information about the artist, GRNY, or Giant Robot magazine, please contact:

Eric Nakamura
Giant Robot Owner/Publisher
eric@giantrobot.com

•Â Also, here's some pics from a few months back. Brendan Wright, who was interning at the time, helped package up this promotion for Renee French's work. This is all a learning process for us (even ten years in), but this package did indeed generate some good response.






you're a mean one...

December 20, 2007 / More →

Mr. Grinch!

The kid LOVES this movie right now. In fact, he loves all the Christmas movies he's seen thus far. Ah, Christmas.

•Â Van Jensen declares Jeff Lemire Best Artist of 2007 at Graphic Fiction!

Congratulations, man.

There's also a nod that Top Shelf (blush blush) is Publisher of the Year! And i think Van said that Super Spy by Matt Kindt gets the nod for Graphic Novel of the Year! Whoo hoo!

• Andy Runton is featured over at Broken Frontier.

• Beautiful new Christmas jpeg from Dino Haspiel.

• And one from the Center for Cartoon Studies, drawn by Dane Martin.

• Tom Spurgeon interviews the ever-affable Tom Devlin at Comics Reporter.

(Cover of Coober Skeeber #2 (The Marvel Benefit Issue), the book that put Devlin, and his Highwater Books label, on the map.)