December 13, 2007 / More →
How bat-shit nutty is THIS... Craig Thompson nominated for a Grammy Award!!
• Diana Schutz has me on her comp list, for which i'll owe her my second-born child. (Except that, i'll never have a second child...)
Anyway, this time i received the magnificent coffee table tome, The Art of Matt Wagner's Grendel.
I really can't think of an icon in the vast world of creator-owned characters, to have received such an impressive, deluxe treatment. Big ups to Matt, Diana, and designer Steve Birch on this expansive treasure trove.
Between this, the Hellboy book (edited by Scott Allie), the Eisner Sketchbook (edited by Diana) and the Art of Bone (also edited by Diana), The Horse has produced arguably the most impressive line of creator-focused art books in the industry.
• RELEASE PARTY FOR WORLD WAR 3 ILLUSTRATED # 38: FACTS ON THE GROUND’ ISSUE
Featuring multi-media presentations by: FLY, SETH TOBOCMAN, MAC McGILL, PETER KUPER, CHRISTOPHER CARDINALE.. NYC Cyclists Memorials, REBECCA MIGDAL, PENNY ALLEN
• John Porcellino continues to produce one of the longest running series in the world of alternative comics, with King-Cat #68. This comic is a pure artistic bravura performance. A diamond in the rough. A nugget of comics goodness that is perfectly priced as a stocking stuffer. Hint, hint. (Especially good for indoctrinating new comics readers into the fold.)
If you enjoy life's simple pleasures, and love naturalist writing or riveting first-person storytelling, then King-Cat is for you. John's delicate line and seemingly simplistic stylings, hide a deeply complex connection to the rhythms of life, nature, and the human condition.
There's more heart in John's hand-lettered introduction to this 68th issue, than in 98% of the naval-gazing auto-bio comics being cranked out in any given year. Browse his catalog and support this modern master.
John Porcellino is an American original, and his importance to the medium of comics is giant.
• If anyone ever questioned whether there were any great mainstream comics coming out anymore, they need look no further than Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's in-your-face The Ultimates, the second oversized volume of which was released yesterday. Many people complain that this comic has strayed to far from the charming and harmless kiddie fare of yesteryear. That's it's too cynical and mean. Well in case you haven't noticed, the world is a cesspool right now, what with the polar ice-caps about to melt away, genocide, wars, and least but not least, the most corrupt administration the country has ever known.
I LOVED the first volume of this, and can't wait to dive into the finale. Moreover, Marvel is the undisputed KING of great hardcover treatments, chock full of extras and bonus goodies. Besides the requisite items like the covers from the floppies, there's a creator commentary, scripts, pencil art, how-to cover designs, and so much more. I'll be the first to admit that this is decidedly NOT for little kids, but if you have a friend who disses comics, but loves genre action films, James Bond, or action movies with lots of explosions, this will make them a believer. Seriously.
(To see a REALLY huge version of this, click HERE.)
• Why would i call this the most corrupt administration in American history. Well, i think Lloyd Dangle, creator of the smash-hit cartoon Troubletown, sums it up nicely.
• James Kochalka has revamped the American Elf website, and now all the archives are free! From James' press release:
"In 1998 I began drawing a daily diary comic strip. (Every day I draw a little strip about something that happened to me that day.) In 2002 I began serializing the diary on my website, AmericanElf.com. On the website, only the most recent strip was available for free and to read the archives you had to subscribe for $1.95 a month. This did pretty well for me, bringing in about $600 a month, net. However... over the years I noticed my readership dropping lower and lower, even as the strip won industry award after industry award. (Three Ignatz awards and a Harvey award). My subscription base remained about the same, but less and less people were reading the strip, even as it became more critically acclaimed.
"I figure this was because a subscription based comic is a bit of an oddity in internet-land. Most web comics are free. Most people who came to my site were probably dumbfounded by the fact that I was asking for money to read the archives. Not to mention that my strip actually sort of sucks in small doses. It's not until you read many strips in a row that you start to understand how good it really is. But unless you were already a subscriber you couldn't read more than one strip at a time. So potential new readers who came to the site by word of mouth, or who followed links, probably turned away rather quickly.
"In the last few months, as the birth of our second child approached, I began to grow more and more restless about the status quo of my website. I didn't really want to give up the subscription money... as little as it is, every little bit helps when you're trying to scrape together a living as an indy cult cartoonist. But I desperately wanted more readers! So with the help of some of my readers and some of my webcomics friends I came up with a plan. Make the archives free, but offer bonus content for subscribers.
"And now here's the even better news. On Thanksgiving, our second son, Oliver Jonco Kochalka was born. Exactly two weeks later on the evening of Thursday, Dec 6, we launched the redesign of American Elf. The news of the change spread. My readership went from about 270 unique users on Wednesday... to about 200,000 or so on Friday. Page views were well in excess of 700,000!
"Life is good! A beautiful crazy baby, and people are actually reading my strip."
• Finally, here are some email holiday attachments i've received in years past:
Two from Ulf K.
One from Gregory Benton
One from Chris Watson
(I'll put some more up next time.)
December 6, 2007 / More →
Fans of Jeffrey Brown, and his bitchin' Incredible Change-Bots really must see this, the official Fan Club swag Jeffrey Brown is sending out for a mere $20. An exclusive mini-comic; a laminated Club Member Card; and a piece of original art, of your favorite Change-Bot.
• I just finally watched Chris Brandt's new comics documentary, Independents: A Guide for the Creative Spirit. Loved it! There's a plethora of familiar faces in there, and together paint an interesting and fun … if by no means complete … picture of the state of indie comics, and their collective history. Good stuff.
My only quibble with it is that it seems much more catered to an insider, and not so much something that a non-initiate would be able to watch, and then grok on the medium and the industry. I think this is more likely than not by design; i just wish there were more docs out there that could work as ambassadors for this still young medium, and bring more new readers into the fold.
Still, kudos Chris! Nice work.
• Here is a TRULY superb interview with Brian Wood, conducted by Tom Spurgeon at the Comics Reporter.
• Master letterer and designer Todd Klein has published a spiffy print titled Alphabets of Desire; a poem by Alan Moore and lettered by Todd. Looks beautiful.
• The EC sets have been sold. The first person to respond, a benefactor who swooped in and bought the whole lot. Thanks, you know who. As it happens a great friend as well, so not only do i find comfort in their new home, but i can revisit them when i visit my friend. Sweet.
December 1, 2007 / More →
Meanwhile, life happens. You know what i mean? I remember almost ten years ago, the day that my Dad died, and all i could think was,"Stop the world!! Doesn't everyone see what just happened?!!!" But the world rambled on, not even a bump in the road.
Here and now, besides the loss of a childhood hero in Evel Knievel, events have transpired that have turned my own personal life entirely upside-down. My apologies for the long long delay. Details are irrelevant really, but let's just say that my monthly household income is now greatly reduced, while the bills keep piling on.
I'm in a financial bind because of my current situation, and so i'm going to sell many of my Russ Cochran, oversized, b&w EC sets. I've done some research online as for pricing, and have priced the books based on the overall average of each set for sale. I'd prefer to receive payment in the form of a check. All prices will include shipping. Contact me at email@example.com if anyone has any interest.
If PayPal payment is preferred, i'll have you send funds to firstname.lastname@example.org. But please contact me first to confirm i still have the set on hand. All sets are in very good / excellent condition.
Two-Fisted Tales: $300.
Frontline Combat: $375.
Haunt of Fear: $600.
Shock Suspenstories: $225.
Vault of Horror: (I can't find this ANYWHERE online, so i'm pricing it as $600.)
Weird Science: $200.
Tales From The Crypt: $150.
• Wordstock, the annual Portland book fair, was a few weeks ago. While it doesn't generate the same sort of ducats that a traditional comics show does, the intangible benefits make it worth our while to attend. Leigh manned the table most of the time, and we got to schmooze and meet lots of people outside of the world of comics. The importance of this sort of outreach is hugely important, as the very business models of selling graphic novels is morphing before our very eyes.
I picked up some cool swag at the show...
My Hunger for Venison by Gary Baseman, published by Baby Tattoo Books. I've LONG been a fan of Baseman's work, but to be honest, for the last several years he's been fairly redundant. This book landed in my hands courtesy of Bob at Baby Tattoo, and wow! What a left turn, and one i highly recommend.
I had some swell neighbors at the festival. Right across the isle was Eric Reynolds of world-renowned Fantagraphics. As was Portland based publisher Hawthorne Books, and talking with Rhonda Hughes was great fun. Next door was Matt Love of Nestucca Spit Press, who published the fabulous basketball book Red Hot and Rollin', about the 1976-77 Championship Season of the Portland Trailblazers. I was ten or eleven when the Blazers won the championship, and man what a wild ride that was. I can't wait to dive into this book.
McSweeney's had a presence at the show as well, and as i'm occasionally known to do, i picked up a book SOLEY because it had an incredibly designed cover. (Well, and it IS a McSweeney's book, after all.) In this case, the debut novel Bowl of Cherries, by Millard Kaufman.
• Brett Weldele continues to produce mind-blowingly cool posters for the annual Portland-based Grindhouse Filmfest. Here's his newest from the fest a couple weeks ago, plus another look at posters he's done in years past. (Congrats too to Brett, for the BIG NEWS about the Surrogate movie news!)
• Matt Kindt … who's book Super Spy has just been declared Indie Book of the Year by Wizard magazine … has a bitchin' new Flash comic up online.
• Here's a swell new drawing by Aleksander Zograf for an Italian glam-rocker.
• Max Estes has a new website. This cat sure can draw!
• Been listening to some old records of mine, what with all the change going on around here, reflecting, and all that sort of stuff. Popped in a record i wasn't sure held the stood of time, All Shook Up, by Cheap trick. Released in 1980 (when i was a sophomore in high school) and produced by the legendary Beatles producer George Martin, not only does this stand up, it rocks better and harder than most of the crap the kids call rock & roll today. Fuckin' A!
• Finally, in honor of the great one, check out this killer YouTube clip my pal Gregor Benton sent to me this morning, and enjoy this eulogy my friend Wayne Shellabarger wrote:
Today we mourn a great American hero, hell, just a great American. Evel Knievel, may your sky-cycle carry you safe and true, high over those pearly gates and St. Peter and his big golden book where your name may or may not appear. "Shoulda built the fence higher, St. Peter motherfucker!" There's a brand new skeleton and a fresh liver waiting for you there, where you'll amaze the angels as you jump over all the dead rock stars jammin' with Jimi Hendrix. I can't wait for all the specials and tributes. Maybe a biopic starring Matthew McConaghey! Until then i'll settle for my $4.98 DVD starring George Hamilton as Evel and my treasured DVD of Evel's greatest jumps.
• Thanks for listen, people. I'm back now, and updates will be frequent.
Alex Robinson has a short interview at Spike.
• Another killer couple a shows at Floating World Comics.
FLOATING WORLD COMICS
20 NW 5TH AVE #101
"A Day of the Dead art celebration with local artist Farel Dalrymple and Seattle artist Kazimir Strzepek. Farel made a big splash in the indy comics scene with his debut Pop Gun War and his acclaimed Meathaus anthologies. Last month he made his Marvel comics debut with Omega the Unknown written by novelist Jonthan Lethem. Kazimir is a relative newcomer to the indy comics world, but his debut The Mourning Star won an Ignatz award for Outstanding Series!"
Then, on December 6:
SPACENIGHT - ROM TRIBUTE SHOW
A Collection Of Digital Prints & Original Art To Benefit Bill Mantlo
Floating World proprietor Jason Leivian writes:
"The first comic I ever read was ROM Spaceknight, a silver cyborg fighting evil monsters throughout the universe. I collected every issue until the series was cancelled at #75 (when I asked the comic clerk why it was cancelled he kindly replied, 'Well, they just ran out of stories to tell.'). I didn’t know it at the time, but the artist of that first issue was Steve Ditko, who would later become one of my all time favorites.
"Years later I learned that all of these incredible stories were written by one man, Bill Mantlo. At the same time I learned that he had been injured in a terrible hit and run accident in 1992. Due to the severe injuries, Bill currently resides in a Brain Injury Rehabilitation Nursing Home, and will probably do so for the rest of his life.
"This show will serve as a fundraiser and celebration of the stories Bill has given us. All of the artwork and more will be compiled in a tribute comic next year that will be sold as a non-profitbenefit book for Bill’s brother/caregiver, Mike Mantlo, to provide funding to enable Bill to enjoy somewhat of a quality of life."
• Wow. I love it when one of our books gets the "I hate this book so much i'm going to devote three hours of my life and 20,000 words dissecting it" treatment. Fer fuck's sake, you could draw an entire mini-comic in the amount of time it took to write this vitriolic review. Someone named "Abhay" (does this guy/girl freelance for the Comics Journal?) over at The Savage Critic takes Jeremy Tinder's Cry Yourself To Sleep to task and all i can say is, i think someone has some Mommy/Daddy issues. I mean, i'm all for a good critical drubbing, provided it's actually, well, you know... critically minded. I almost never point out negative reviews of our books, but this is actually laughably funny. I think someone here needs to find a good therapist.
• He's a video blog featuring an interview with Jeffrey Brown at Bif! Bam! Pow! Wow!.
• More short video interviews over at Express, courtesy of Scott Rosenberg and Christopher Porter.
• Mike Bonanno was a guest of my pal Doug from Oni at my pre-Stumptown cocktail party, and he just sent me this great Flickr set of pics he took.
My god, how cute is my kid. That's him giving "respect knuckles." Chuck BB in the background. (Carter's favorite album right now, by the way, is Van Halen 1!! You should hear him sing "Jamie's Cryin'.")
• Jesse Reklaw recently threw down with an amazing, dense mini-comic called Bluefuzz, and i'm here to tell you, this is some of Jesse's best work to date. The titular hero Bluefuzz's existential journey in 48 pages is a freewheeling beautiful ride. Featuring a small handful of full-color painted pages too.
I picked this up at Stumptown from the Sparkplug table. Sadly, i can't find any info online about this fine little comic.
• Tom Spurgeon interviews my old buddy, CBLDF Director Charles Brownstein at The Comics Reporter.
• JP Coovert gave me his new comic Adrift at SPX, and it's wonderful. My favorite book of his ever. Maybe autobiographical, maybe not; the narrative uses oceanic creature metaphors to beautiful effect. Well done, JP! It's not available yet at One Percent Press, but i presume it will be soon, and worth tracking down.
• One of my scores from TCAF in August is a mini-comics sketchbook by one Michael Cho, called Papercut. I'd never heard of this guy before nor had i seen his work, but mark my words people, we ALL will sooner than later. This guy is an AMAZING illustrator and cartoonist. (He drew THE most kick-ass Iron Man in my Avengers/Kirby's 4th World Sketchbook.) Check out his website and be prepared for some luscious art.
• Steve Lafler has a new online comic, called Diva Funnies. Yay!
SPX 2007 is come and gone now and it was fun fun fun. I've been attending this show since 1996, when David Lasky and myself were the only attendees from the West Coast. There are plenty of anecdotes about how awesome it was in the olden days, when Chris Oarr buried a pig in his backyard and we drunkenly swung at a pinata (this is the same house party at which i met for the first time folks like Greg Bennett of Big Planet Comics, Jeff Smith, and Shannon Wheeler), then into the years where attendance rose and Sunday became a giant picnic. When the show relocated last year i was one of those who bemoaned the lack of Sunday in the September sun... time to kick back reflect with ones peers and what have you. Well now that the show has moved to October, the weather isn't as nice, and besides which, the new hotel is so vast and comfortable, that i didn't really miss the picnic so much. Life is all about change, yes?
Check out this fun little SPX interview with Chris Staros by Scott Rosenberg and Christopher Porter at Read Express.
• Lots of stuff read from the show while traveling back home. This is only a smattering. I also have some photos i took, but i still need to load them.
• While i don't think there was a single "buzz book" that stood out from the crowd, i was given a handful of minis by a creator i might dub the "buzz cartoonist" of the show, at least for me since i'm not familiar with his work. I don't recall meeting him, but i ended up with a handful of mini-comics by self-publisher Joseph Lambert. His art and stories are wide-ranging in style, but man can this guy draw! My favorite was hands down a mini called Turtle Keep it Real. The other books were Thin Bear Loves His Brother and The Bait & Switch. Wonderful stuff.
• Our own Rob Venditti continues to surprise with a prose chapbook titled Dads, also published by Wide Awake Press. This is a short and delightfully fictional account about growing up and the differences between a "real" dad and a "step-dad." Insightful and extremely well written. Visit the Wide Awake Press website and buy this now, please.
• The anthology Eats is the third and final entry from Wide Awake Press. It's not as good as their previous anthology 666, but it has a couple nuggets of greatness making it fully worth your while. With an (obvious) food theme, Ben Towle's Hush Puppies story was terrific. Rob Ullman privided a nifty story called "Crustacean Frustration" which, besides being a heartwarming tale of forgiveness and redemption, is a real fun cartoony departure from his more well-known proclivity towards drawing smoking hot young women (see below). Big ups to J. Chris Campbell. (Who, by the way received the award for seeming even as remotely drunk as i was on Friday night. Good god, i suffered a two-day hangover after that bender.)
• After gearing many good things i finally kicked down some cash at the CCS booth for Ken Dahl's two issue of his series called Monsters, a (loosely?) autobiographical story about contracting herpes. It doesn't sound like it could possibly be one of my favorite books of the year, just from this description, but it's fucking amazing. I'm hooked... can't wait for the next issue! I couldn't find a website for him, but he has a section at I Know Joe Kimple.
• Aaron Renier returns to comics, taking a break from his kid's book, and gives us the first chapter in a riveting detective thriller The Karaoke Encryption. A story about a tomato gumshoe named Thomas "Guns" Atillo (aka tomatillo!!), this little gem is as layered and textured as Spiral-Bound, his Top Shelf masterpiece. An amazing little comic... More! More! More!
• Next up, another comics narrative by a young Jewish cartoonist looking to return to their roots. Sarah Glidden handed me issue #1 of her ongoing story "How to Understand Israel in Sixty Days or Less," and i must say it's a fine effort. Her art style is loose and expressive while maintaining a balanced realism that helps the somewhat intense subject matter. Nice work. I hope she finishes this and finds a publisher for it. We need more stuff like this in the marketplace.
• Drew Weing brings his magic touch to the Fluke 2007 anthology, proving that not only is he one of the most imaginative cartoonists in recent years, but his eye for bring other high-level creators into the mix is also genius. Since this is "just" a convention-based comic it's likely that this superb anthology will be over-looked, which is criminal. Stand-outs include contributions by Shawn Cheng, Patrick Dean, Joseph Lambert (THAT guy again!), Mike Laughead, Dorothy Gambrell, Joey Weiser, Eleanor Davis (of course), Ben Constantine, Matt Wiegle, Michele Chidester, and Chris Wright. The ace in the hole goes, not surprisingly, to Drew himself with the magnificent "Algernon Lamb: Aesthetic Detective," a tight little masterpiece... in fact, i officially nominate this for Best Short Story of 2007, it's that well crafted.
• James Hindle keeps making great little mini-comics, and they get better every time. He gave me a copy of Folded Paper Assembly #3 and i loved it, especially the lead story "Broken Necks." Like a fun mix of Steven (Ribs!) Weissman and early-era Adrian Tomine. I'm really enjoying James' comics more and more.
• Mr Phil of the incredible Indie Spinner Rack was on hand pimping the debut volume of the awesome anthology Awesome, edited and produced by Mr Phil and his cohort Charlito. Chock full of great comics, it was notable for me particularly for introducing me to excellent new talent (for me at least) like Alexis Frederick-Frost and Phil Jackson. Oh, and there's ANOTHER super rad comic in there by Joseph Lambert. Awesome.
• Monster Island Three, edited by Billy Mavreas jumped out at me from Bodega's table. In the art-zinecamp, this artsy fartsy book from Conundrum Press is a fine edition to a welcome new category. It's not perfect but it has a ton of great art and a sweet essay, "In Defense of our Galaxy: On the publishing history of Jack Kirby's Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers," AND a new comic by Bernie Mireault (who also has a new strip in the aforementioned Awesome anthology).
• Steve Hamaker kindly gave me his last copy of the new Shazam!: the Monster Society of Evil hardcover, written and drawn by Jeff Smith and colored by Steve himself. Wow! A choice entry in the much underrepresented all-ages category (especially from Marvel and DC), this is the first comic from one of the Big Two i've read in years, where i felt a reader didn't need a masters degree in mainstream continuity to enjoy it. A perfect example of how the big publishers can and should be making comics, if they ever hope to have a chance in hell in finding and developing new young readers. More please.
• My favorite book of the trip probably wouldn't even register to most comics readers here in the ol' U.S. A retrospective of the life and output of the highly regarded French publisher Editions Cornelius. Focused more on the art than the history, Cornelius: ou l'art de la mouscaille et du pinaillage is the sort of dreamy book that makes my heart all aflutter. The only similar book i can think of in this category is the also wonderful book, 25 Years of Kitchen Sink, which came out a long time ago.
Cornelius publishes some of the world's greatest authors, and has published the definitive editions of David Mazzuchelli's ground-breaking stories from the seminal three volume Rubber Blanket series. And to prove how great publishing minds think alike, compare the gorgeous Crumb cover to this crazy cool tome, to our own Seasonal Sampler, art directed by myself and drawn by Jeffrey Brown. I swear on my Mom's grave i never saw this before we completed the Sampler.
October 8, 2007 / More →
THINGS I LIKED RECENTLY:
• The MAD War on Bush. A collection of strips from the last several years of the worst presidency in the history of the USA. VERY funny stuff. I laughed and i cried too, because some of the mock-able shenanigans of the administration are more frightening than funny. Picked this up at Samurai Comics in Phoenix when i was down there visiting family this last week.
• Pinwheel, by Mike Bertino. Given to me at the Stumptown Comics Fest last weekend by my pals at Tender Loving Empire, this little comic is a formal tour-de-force, and oh so good. Mike was doing mini-comics way back in the day (most notably his ambitious 4-issue mini-series Trigger), then sort of disappeared to go to school. Well now he's back, and the world is a better place for it. Worth tracking down. It's a little spendy at $10 plus shipping, but it's got a trick screenprinted cover and is limited to 250 copies.
• Tripwire Annual 2007. This reboot follows a four year hiatus, and it's excellent. The previous run was really hit or miss, leaning more often towards the miss side for my tastes. The new ish is a huge leap forward, and if it wasn't for the weak comics section near the back, would be one of my favorites of the year. The bitchin' Hellboy cover by Duncan Fegredo is almost worth the cover price alone.
• Comic Foundry #1. Love it! Love it! Love it! I've raved about this many times in the past. Three words. Buy. This. Magazine.
• I wrote before how much i loved the art of Laura Park with her comic Do Not Disturb My Waking Dream. Well, since i gave my copy to Gregory Benton for letting me crash it his pad during MoCCA, i finally finagled a swap with Laura for a new copy of my own. I read it. Fucking amazing! Arguably my favorite new indy cartoonist to come along in ages.
Laura, do you wanna do a book together?
• Speaking of Stumptown... this was yet another year besting the previous one. I dig the new location and hope it stays. Had fun. But i still can't believe that a town that is arguably the freaking MECCA for comics in North America doesn't burn down the house with rockin' success. What gives? I had way more business at my table at TCAF in Toronto several weeks ago.
Still, BIG BIG props to all involved. It was a breeze to work, the staff and volunteers were great. This was really the first year that gave me hope that this will eventual evolve into a real and truly vital comics show.
•Â So i did a HUGE music purge recently (loading lots and lots of partial albums into my iTunes), and picked up some new records in trade, all recommended. Four On The Floor, by Juliette Lewis & The Licks; Revival, by John Fogerty; Magic, by Bruce Springsteen; Sounds of Mass Destruction, by Annie Lennox; and a nice (used) reissue, Jimmy & Wes: the Dynamic Duo, by Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery on Verve Records. It's amazing to think of the cumulative music making experience behind Annie, Bruce, and John. What, a century and a half almost? Three people. And they're still kicking out killer new projects. I picked up the Juliette Lewis one on a hunch, having seen and liked her on the tube on stuff like VH1's I Love the 70's show and whatnot. I'm glad i did. It rocks seriously hard! The band is tight and Juliette is on fire. Pure power pop at its finest.
• Meanwhile, here's a series of drawings my a very short-lived intern i had this Summer named Andy Kettler. The kid can draw! This was a series of rounds of drafts he did for a poster i'm going to have another intern poster around Portland.
John Weeks sent out an email update for his excellent site Comics Lifestyle. I notice he's done a fine revamp of said site as well. I really dig this vintage-style header!
• Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum of the wildly successful library-based comic strip Unshelved, have served up anouther fine comics-review of Alex Robinson's Box Office Poison. Thanks for the props, guys.
• Kevin Moore is back on the editorial cartoon bandwagon with his strip called In Contempt, and man he's funny as shit! Welcome back to the political fold, Kevin!
• Jen Contino interviewed Alex Robinson back on teh 17th at The Pulse, regarding his new comic Lower Regions. Check it out.
• Issue #3 of C'est Bon is out (sporting a cover by the great great James Jean), and this humble Eurocentric anthology continues to impress. A vital new voice in international comics available to the North American audience, on the same level as the likes of Papercutter, Mome, and You Ain't No Dancer. Highly recommended.
• Tom Hart is at it again:
"I've teamed up with the terrific folks at The Panelist, a website about investing ethically, to start a new weekly strip, The Money Warrior!
"The Money Warrior's on the hunt! He's current, direct, ruthless and primal! The Money Warrior wants to kill you some money!
You can keep up by checking www.thepanelist.com or www.themoneywarrior.com once a week.
"The Money Warrior started as a bit of a parody of Jim Cramer of Mad Money, and in fact I created the first iteration for my Metro strips. But those strips reminded me that in the end, I dislike parody and that I'd rather invent my own creations, something new from a starting point of parody. The folks at the Panelist recognized a similar traveler in the Money Warrior, and asked for more."
•Â I've been cleaning up my desktop and archiving lots of "stuff" lately. Some great offbeat/rare art most of which were jpeg email attachments, which i plan to slowly start running here at Hey Bartender!.
And here's a nifty coaster design by Max Estes.
2 of the guys with the coolest names ever … Bwana Spoons and Justin Scrappers … are currently exhibiting an art show at Bwana's fabulous gallery space / hipster boutique store Grass Hut. It's fucking amazing. If you are in Portland anytime soon, you really should check this out.
• Punk rock cartoonist extraordinaire Fly is conducting a DIY Comix & Zine-Making Workshop through MoCCA. It's a 6 week course, every Thursday 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. from September 20 - October 25. Class is limited to 15 so sign up today!
- Sept 20 - Introduction - developing story ideas & scripting with guest Abby Denson
- Sept 27 - Page Design - thumbnail sketches & research with guest Edowyn Vazkez
- October 4 - Final Pencils & Inking Techniques - with guest Sabrina Jones
- October 11 - Extra work week - to catch up & get help with any problems - with Fly
- October 18 - Production - "paste-up" - copying & distro - with guest John Holmstrom
- October 25 - COMIX & ZINE-TRADING PARTY!! - open to the public! - free for MoCCA students & members - $5 for everyone else - OR - bring some zines to trade & get in FREE!!!
• Here's an interview with James Kochalka's editor at Random House, Nick Eliopulos. It's pretty interesting actually.
(Random House published James' most recent kid's book, Squirrely Gray.)
• o.k. who amongst you doesn't love dolphins?
Or whales? Anyone? I didn't think so. Let's talk about life on Planet Earth. If you read this blog for the comics, then skip this one.
Here's a very disturbing news article i read last week that brought me to tears. Most readers of Hey Bartender know that i'm big big big on marine life and the oceans. (I've been glued to my television and staying up waaay past bedtime lately watching the BBC produced Blue Planet. Highly recommended.)
In a nutshell, an appeals court overturned a ban on the US navy's use of sonar in upcoming training exercises off California that was aimed at protecting whales disturbed by the subsea emissions. How utterly depressing.
Here is a petition with singer James Taylor attached to it, directed to the Secretary of the Navy.
Most of my letter-writing is directed to our Congress-people and Senators, but in this case, the situation is out of their prerogative, so i used this petition to make my voice heard.
Sorry for the long wait, folks. I've been up to my eyeballs with work work work. Good thing i absolutely love what i freaking do, eh?
That said, three stellar new books are now finally off to the printer: Jeff Lemire's long-awaited second entry in the Essex County trilogy, Ghost Stories; Chris Staros' Yearbook Stories (with art by Bo Hampton and Rich Tommaso); and Alex Robinson's fabulous love-letter to Dungeons & Dragons, Lower Regions.
• Meanwhile, The Stumptown Comics Fest is a mere three weeks away, and i'm getting fired up. We'll be co-hosting a bitchin' after-party on Saturday at the Tonic Lounge with Fantagraphics, featuring The Morals, Fox Hollow, and Tractor Operator (for a record release no less!). Saturday, September 29th, $6, doors at 9:15, 21 & over. We'll have a typical merch table setup like at any rock show, so come out and kick ass!
That same night Cosmic Monkey (now residing ONLY at the Sandy Blvd location), is hosting the first annual Stumptown Trophy Awards. Not much available info on that yet.... stay tuned.
• Steve Lieber sent this out, worth noting. Formerly Mercury now Periscope Studios is a serious hot spot in the comics world.
"When our studio changed its name from Mercury to Periscope, I thought we were sort of stuck with our old blog URL. I was happy to stumble upon a button in the blogspot dashboard that enables you to move your content to a new blogspot URL, (subject to availability) and I used it. Bang! All of our content was now available at periscopestudio.blogspot.com . Boy was that easy, and it It didn't offer up any sort of warning, so I assumed that the mercurystudio.blogspot.com address would keep the old content.
"Hoo boy, no. Within minutes a spammer took possession of our old URL and pasted viagra and porn ads into a google cache of our site's template. I've written blogspot's support, but their help forum is full of people complaining about never getting any reply from blogspot support. I'm not expecting much help there. In the meantime, we're writing to you, our friends in comics, asking you to change your Mercury Studio links to this."
• From our good friends at Stripcore... if you happen to be in Finland next weekend.
This year, the Helsinki comics festival, the biggest event of this kind in Finland and whole Northern Europe, will host Stripburger for the second time. It happened for the first time in 1999 and now your favourite Slovenian comics magazine is back to the scene of crime with the Honey Talks exhibition to present comics based on painted beehive panels to the Finnish and international audience. In the past (this year is the festival's 22nd time) the festival already hosted celebrities such as Moebius, Enki Bilal and Will Eisner among this year's guests are Christophe Blain, Yvan Alagbe, (France), Keitaro Arima (Japan), Olivier Schrauwen (Belgium) and Gunnar Lundkvist (Sweden) and Helge Reumann (Switzerland) in a joint project. There'll be 14 exhibitions in all (the Stripburger's one will take place from Sept. 12th to 30th in "Jangva" contemporary art gallery), and the main programme will take place September 15th and 16th in the "Gloria" cultural arena.
• I have been reading stuff periodically. Most recent novel was the new edition of Jack Kerouac's Darma Bums, with the nifty cover by cartoonists Jason. Stellar novel. Totally inspiring.
The bedside table kept hostage a book i picked up waaaay back at MoCCA from old friend Ria Schulpen (Bries distribution) the second volume of her anthology Hic Sunt Leones ("Here be Lions") featuring all Flemish artists. It's entirely in English … in fact my pal Mark Nevins was one of two translation editors. It's in full luscious color and a visual explosion. As per anthology rules it has its hits & misses, but here even the misses are incredibly illustrated. There's a great review here at the Forbidden Planet website, as well as some nice background info on Ria.
Just picked up and immediately devoured Brian Wood & Ryan Kelly's outstanding Oni Press book Local #12... the Austin TX issue. Brian's formal conceit with this series is great, and this issue is really out of nowhere, and yet one of the most powerful comics ever, revolving around the life and fate of a young man who grew up with one big ass-hole of a dad. Tragic and all too common sadly. This is great great stuff. Each issue is self-contained, but the cumulative experience of reading this (GASP!) serialized is wonderful. Brian did similar work with Becky Cloonan on Demo which i also recommend. There are very very few comics i prefer over the trade, and these are two of them.
Will Dinski gave gave me a wildly killer very rare hardcover comic, either at MoCCA, San Diego, or TCAF... man, i don't recall. In any case, "Beautiful, Cool and Irreplaceable," the story in Habitual Entertainment #4 is awesome. The twisted sordid tale of rarified Hollyweird freaks, hell-bent on self-image, power and ego really gets under the skin. His art reminds me lots of vintage Pete (Hey, Mister) Sickman-Garner, and his black black humor actually does too. Wicked good comics, also recommended.
Will is doing some excellent comics. Check out this strip on the comix section of our own website, and if you like, for god's sake find more.
• Just In... NEWS from Dave K. Comics:
"I designed a T-shirt and it goes on sale this Monday, September 10 for only ten dollars. After Monday, the shirt will be available for a week at the price of $15. WOOT features a new t-shirt everyday and this is the first one I designed for them. It's a funky rollerrink logo silkscreened on an orange T-shirt. Available in a variety of sizes."
August 30, 2007 / More →
My friend Gary Butler who writes the comics column Blood in Four Colors for the horror magazine Rue Morgue) wrote this to me last week regarding Matt Kindt's new book Super Spy:
"Good god, man, what a masterpiece. I already sensed the absolute brilliance of a writer/artist at the top of his game when I read (and loved) the advance pdf version but !!WOW!! what a difference a physical book makes. The hell with espionage…Super Spy is quite simply a note-perfect argument for why print must not die.
"To the story/art: I reread the book last night (first 'physical' reading, though) and ONCE AGAIN tonight. This has shit-all to do with our friendship…this is about top-level comics that demand extra attention without draping themselves in pretentiousness.
"No doubt, I didn't 'get' the whole story on the first read (well, nor the second; I ain't as sharp as I once was, and I've probably been pistol-whipped a few times more than I care to admit), but the best part about Super Spy is that Klindt neither wants nor NEEDS readers to 'get' it completely on the first pass. Other (lesser) creators brimming in pretense want (in fact NEED) the same thing, but it's all about self-validation for them, which is the wrong reason, even if it's subconscious. Klindt wants…yes, NEEDS…nothing more than for the reader to have as much fun as he's having; what a saint.
"As to my point about the 'physical': RAMMED home within the first few pages, the minute the 'distress' treatment kicked in. Sure, it was there on the pdf, but there's no comparison. What a superb idea, making each individual reader feel a part of the spy network by putting pages-that-have-been-through-hell in their hands. They must know someone connected to get so far! Seriously: a beyond-effective, subtle touch.
"Where does this book need to get reviewed in order to be considered Eisner-worthy? (Don't tell me them judges make up their minds sans media credit.) You should targeting the big guns with this one, because the second read made me realize that it wasn't just brilliant fun…it was just brilliant."
• Dave K has some new comics up on his website. Please note the new URL:
• James Kochalka's book, Squirrelly Gray, was just released by Random House. He made an animated "trailer" for the book, with his own voice doing the narration and voices. (And a little piece of instrumental music from his old rock opera Carrot Boy the Beautiful as the background music.)
August 25, 2007 / More →
• Oh, and did i mention how much TCAF rocks the f*cking house! I met so many cool people, partied my ass off, and had a successful business trip. Kudos to ALL involved, especially superman Chris Butcher, who makes it all happen. I met J Bone, Michael Cho (Holy Mary Jesus Buddha this guy can draw like a MoFo), Willow Dawson (see below), volunteer Caryle (hit by a car while riding his bike during the convention), who ended up being something of an assistant throughout the weekend, and girl-duo supreme Amanda & Victoria, two hilarious volunteers who had me in tears. So much more... great dinners with Jeffrey Brown and Jeff Lemire and Jeff's delightful wife, much late-nite geeking out on super-heroes and music and politics and scotch with my pal Gary Butler. Besides dropping some of the weekend's take at The Beguling (the best comics shop i've ever been to) i also checked out a pretty new store called The Labyrinth (on Mike Huddleston's recommendation), which specializes in books on Animation, Illustration, Anime Art, Graffiti, Life Drawing, Sketchbooks, French Bandes Dessine, Concept Art, etc... fine shop. Good stuff, and they have a blog too. Who else did i talk with over the weekend?... Jim Rugg, Paul Gravett, Dan & Katie from Green Brain Comics and so many more.
I still had unread piles of comics, mini-comics and graphic novels from San Diego before i left for Toronto and now i'm treading water while my basement office fills with yet-to-read books. Yeesh. (Content for future blog updates, i suppose, eh?)
• Met a guy there named Aaron Navrady who did this fabulous hockey page.
• Also met Willow Dawson, who gave me the Find Of The Show for me. It's a small, folded, painted full-color booklet, and it's a gem. Really really wonderful work, and an big empowerment ride for girls.
• Meanwhile, there's yet more new comics on our website, this one by Felix Tannenbaum. Check it out.
• And yet another Top Shelf alum, Josh Simmons has an art show coming up at David Youngblood's tiny but tight gallery, The Pony Club.
"STEAK & BEER: 10 Years of Comics, Paintings, Music and Porn by Josh Simmons
The Pony Club Gallery is proud to present a retrospective of comics and art from alternative cartoonist and journeyman, though currently Portland based, Josh Simmons. While comic centric, the show includes paintings, photography and video ranging from the viciously satirical to the embarrassingly autobiographical to the sickening pornographic and to the gut-fuckingly hilarious. Starting 10 years ago with the early, long out of print mini-comics, Lick and Twitch-Happy. Traveling on, to the Top Self publications Cirkus New Orleans and the mini-series Happy, which documents his time performing with a sex circus, the End Of The World Cirkus/Know Nothing Family Zirkus Sideshow. And onto the current horror graphic novella, House, published by the prestigious Fantagraphics Books. Dotted throughout with a smattering of his cartoons-fucking-flesh-people from the ten-issue photo comic, All About Fucking and the bootleg Batman comic, which DC Comics would most likely never care to see the light of day. Drawings and comic pages will hang side by side with other works that reflect the artist’s life during his many travels and experiences."
First Thursday, September 6, 2007 6:00-10:00pm. Pony Club. 625 NW Everett St #105. Portland, OR 97209. (503) 334-7658. The show runs through October 2, 2007.
• Joe Keatinge from Image scored me a most excellent and unexpected book, called Intersections, that may have slipped under the radar. It's a back & forth jam book by Duncan Fegredo and Sean Philips, two MASTERS in contemporary comics. A visual and conceptual tour de force.
• Hey, Bartender reader Domen Finzar from Slovenia sent me this fun link; an ongoing project featuring alternative cartoonists doing interpretations of Spider-Man. He's looking for contributions folks.
•Â Finally, here's some miscellaneous images i've had on queue to post.
Old Man Briefcase, by Tom K. (Who i also chatted up at TCAF, in addition to his table-mate, the affable Jon Lewis.) Tom graciously gifted this original art to me, after i'd been drooling over it back during APE
August 16, 2007 / More →
The new issue of Clutter magazine is out, and it has a beautiful 3-page feature spread on our good pal Bwana Spoons, of Grass Hut. Bwana's work is positively dreamy, and it's wonderful to see him finally starting to get the props he deserves. Whoo hoo!
• i received an excellent, unsolicited comic book in my po box a few weeks ago, called Into the Dust. It's issue #1 of a 12-issue, full-color series, and it's excellent. You can learn more at Into the Dust.
• I've been remiss as of late in updating this thing... and if there are any readers out there waiting with baited breath, my apologies. That said, there are countless blogs far superior to this one that update daily or close to.
• There's so many nifty comics and books i've picked up as late. I'm still catching up from some of the items i picked up at MoCCA, let alone San Diego. And now i'm leaving on Friday for TCAF (Toronto) where it's certain i'll be getting even more cool swag. As i've said before, i simply don't have time to write lengthy reviews. Needless to say, if you read it hear on Hey, Bartender, unless otherwise noted, it means i really dig it, and endorse seeking it out.
- The Art of Luca Tieri: a beautiful sketchbook by the self-titled Italian cartoonist, published by The Department of Art and Power. Gorgeous stuff in the now-ubiquitous "animated" style popularized in recent times by the likes of Bruce Timm. The content skews less towards men-in-tights though, and more towards indy culture. Great stuff.
- Everybody Takes a Turn, by Vincent (King Mini) Stall. Yet another superior "mini" comic, stock with a separate screenprinted case, this story is like a dreamy mushroom trip … a little hard to follow at times, but the ride is the important thing, not the destination. And like the rest of the known world, he has a killer new blog, always worth a peek.
- Injury, by Ted May. Hopefully but the first of many many more issues by one of today's most criminally underappreciated cartoonists of my generation. Ted May's work might not provide insightful observations on the human condition, and that's o.k. Because what he does provide is pure F.U.N. Published by Buenaventura Press.
- Ratatouille: Little Golden Book. I still have yet to see this film (heck, i just in the last several weeks watched Cars for the first time... and Cfunk LOVES that one), but Scott Morse scored this for me from the Pixar studios, and it's a gem. Those folks at Pixar well and truly "get it." I'm not sure how many stores carry this little treasure, but i found it at Amazon.
- Multiple Warheads, by Brandon Graham. Holy good lord in heaven above, this is one stunning book. I'll be honest, Brandon's early work was, well... developmental. But this sucker … published by Oni Press … is outstanding. If i had to define it, i'd call it a cross between new kid (and Brandon's pal) Corey Lewis and old-school ink-stud Paul Pope. And like both mentioned cartoonists, where plot and story may be lacking, the shear vision and execution more than makes up for this. In a word, "WOW!"
- Amelia's Magazine #7. This British hipster/lifestyle publication rivals any and all of my favorite domestic mags (such as Flaunt, Mass Appeal, Swindle, Giant Robot, Beautiful Decay, Vapors, etc.). I can't tell you whether it's widely available here in the U.S., but i've been finding it at my local Barnes & Nobel.
(Hey, i'd buy it at a local independent bookseller, but truth be known, they in Portland simply don't have the wherewithal to carry it... a real bitch of mine these days. You always hear about the indies complaining about the chains, and yet i rarely see the indies stocking anything but the most common books on the market, instead of those offbeat rare oddities that readers will not find at the chains.)
• "THE LAND OF BROKEN HEARTS": A RARE EXHIBITION OF ARTWORK BY AL COLUMBIA
Floating World Comics presents a rare and exclusive opportunity to view new work by the acclaimed and elusive artist Al Columbia. September’s first Thursday will see the debut of “THE LAND OF BROKEN HEARTS,” marking the first public exhibition and appearance by the enigmatic artist in over a decade. The exhibition will feature a large collection of limited edition prints, original artwork, handmade books, and other ephemera from his Orange Sunshine Company, much of it created especially for this show. The artist will also participate in an informal Q&A during the event.
"THE LAND OF BROKEN HEARTS" is a new series of illustrations that serves as a preview for a new collection of work that Columbia will release in 2008 from Seattle’s Fantagraphics Books. Floating World will have all of Columbia’s published works to date on hand at the event, including The Biologic Show, Blab!, Mome, and Zero Zero.
The opening night reception will be documented on film by Kevin Belli, a Boston filmmaker who has been creating the documentary "Whatever Happened to Al Columbia?" over the last four years.
• And i'm off to Toronto for TCAF. Lordy i'm looking forward to this show. If it's half as much fun as the one two years ago, i'm in for a blast! I'm staying with my good buddy Gary Butler, the comics columnist (Blood in Four Colors) for the seminal horror magazine Rue Morgue.
August 13, 2007 / More →
August 9, 2007 / More →
Holy god, a couple nights ago i was surfing through cable tv for some background noise laying out Jeff Lemire's new book, when i stumbled across some young blond woman on PBS, on-stage playing guitar and singing up a storm. I was instantly impressed with this girl's pipes. And her song-writing as well. So i jumped online to find out who this was, and lo and behold it's Jewel.
I suppose that shows my age, maybe? I'd heard this name for years, naive and without a clue who it was. In fact, my presumption was that this was more likely than not just another poseur, hand-created by some slimy producer. But no, whether you like her or not, Jewel is the real deal. The last few songs of her set were with a small orchestra, her singing a cappella, and i literally had shivers running down my spine. Wow. Wow. Wow.
A quick search reveals that the television program was called Soundstage, and this episode was Jewel From the Rialto Square Theatre.
• We finally have some new comics up on our website, and they are awesome. In a more realistic manner we have the fine stylings and deep subject matter of Gabriel Frizzera, with the story "Heavy Metal Heart." Then on the opposite end of the spectrum stylistically, yet no less incredible, are some surreal comics in the art-brut school by Bart (Aardbart) Johnson.
• Here's a pic of me sandwiched by my two of oldest pals in comics, Garret Izumi and Steve Lafler. We were out for cocktails that night (me…drinking mango mojitos), followed up by some activity out behind, well... never mind. (Photo by Garret!)
• Some cool books i picked up at San Diego. (Who knows when i'll have the time to read 'em... but even at a glance they look sweet.)
- Chance in Hell, by Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
- Percy Gloom, by Cathy Malkasian (Fantagraphics)
- Mean, by Steven Weissman, reprinting his earliest awesome self-published comic books (Fantagraphics) This is one of very very few comics, where the sheer delightful energy of Ribs!' self-published floppies are so damn cool, i'll keep both the original comics as well as the trade paperback collecting them.
- Scrap Mettle, an art book about Scott Morse, designed by Chris Pitzer. Thanks, Scott! (Image) Wow! What an amazing collection of work by Mr Morse. Pen & ink, color work, washes, etc.
- Kent Williams, a stunning monograph, gifted to me…thanks Johnnie! (ASFA) Brilliant. The guy is a master.
- Comic Art #9, edited by Todd Hignite, designed by Jonathan Bennett (Buenaventura) This deluxe magazine is so good that it rivals Craig Yoe's seminal ARF! Chock full of high-carb comics calories, with fabulous contributors, contents, and a seriously lush design sensibility... kudos to Mr Hignite and Mr Bennett, and thanks to Mr Buenaventura for publishing it.
- Pulphope, by Paul Pope and Chris Pitzer (AdHouse) I picked this baby up at Floating World here in Portland. Two words come to mind. Eye. Candy. This is a real gem, and the world is a much better place with this book now in print. Get one while you can.
- Fleet Street Scandal, by Kevin Dart and Chris Turnham (self-published) Easily some of the most exciting new talent for me in years. While they each have very unique styles and concerns, they are at the same time very compatible as a team. I love the mix of sweet design skills and luscious chops. These are two to watch out for.