Hey Bartender! pg. 23

May 15, 2007

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I'm now in the strange Twilight Zone between having readied and sent new books to the printer, and holding them in my hands. On one hand it's a relief to have the production behind me, only to now have the new anxiety of waiting to see if there are any snafus at the printing plant roll down the line. Missing fonts, corrupted files, out-of-order pages, et al.

So meanwhile, i'm catching up on all of the little things that had piled up while my efforts were focused on a handful of books to build. The emails, art requests, submissions, rough-drafts, publicity planning, convention prep, data archiving, news-reading, blogging, retail restocking (at least for me here in comics savvy Portland), and keeping up with my reading pile. Said pile including mini-comics, magazines, graphic novels, fiction, non-fiction, more blogs, newssites, local weeklies... cereal boxes, etc.

(Favorite new right-before-bed reading is the mammoth new artbook, The Making of Star Wars. Yeah, i think Lucas is the devil … i mean, Darth Vader … with the way he's destroyed the mythology with the new trilogy, but this book is drawn from photo and interview archives from the early days, many from before the film was even released. Before George turned to the Dark Side. It's a record of how the film came to be, and as a true kid of the Star Wars Generation, it's like reading the behind-the-scenes of the Book of Genesis.)

Oh, and somewhere along the line, i found The Venture Bros. (Maybe on Heidi MacDonalds, The Beat?) Anyway, i love to watch an episode on dvd every fews days. Great stuff.

• Jeff Lemire, who has just completed Book One (Tales From the Farm) of his Essex County trilogy, wrote:

"I'm doing a big outdoor art festival in Windsor, which is the largest city in the real Essex County. It's called Art in The Park Windsor. I will basically have a booth displaying my originals and I'll be selling copies of Tales as well. It's a very large show, with tens of thousands of people coming through, from the county and from Detroit as well. There are no other comic artists or anything resembling that there, so I should draw a fair amount of attention. And the comic shop helping me out is called Rogues Gallery."

• City Dwellers by Henry Chamberlain is one of the art works you will see at this year's Henry Bash at the Henry Art Gallery, May 18, Friday, 8pm to midnight. University of Washington.

• As i alluded to in my last post, i recently read a couple minis by Josh Frankel, which i picked up at APE last month. Both are a delight … each one a sort of Naturalist chapbook. Twilight of the Sea Cow features the story of the Stellar's sea cow, and animal hunted to extinction by 1768, in a tale which humanizes the sea-faring mammal to great effect.

The other book is a title-less mini about the prehistoric Trilobite. There's some crazy shit in this one, including crustaceans, flatworms, and a battle between two really trippy-looking squid.

Fan's of nature tv shows will love these. I was a devout junky of Jacques Yves Coustau and Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom as a kid, which set me on the path of armchair naturalist for life. I wish there were more comics like these around. There might be, if there were a larger place for comics in the wider entertainment culture. Books like these might flourish in the education world, but for a lack of awareness as to the prowess of the medium as a teaching-tool within the industry. This could be a lack of imagination, but i'd wager it's more or less lack of knowledge and distribution.

• Press release:

"An organization has been founded to study and promote comic books as a legitimate artform: Sequart Research & Literacy Organization.

"While comic books and graphic novels have increasingly been taken seriously in recent years," according to organization founder Julian Darius, "we still have a long way to go. To many people, comics are still silly kids' stuff or something that spurs hit movies. This organization intends to study the medium and make it accessible to new readers.

"The organization maintains its extensive website, and will be launching a line of books on comics later this month.

"The organization, based in Edwardsville, Illinois, is the successor to Sequart, a popular website devoted to the study of comic books. That site has been represented at several comic book conventions.

"The organization's initial Board of Directors consists of Julian Darius, Mike Phillips, and Peter Bukalski."


• At the moment, i'm pretty damn happy. My favorite basketball team, the Phoenix Suns, just made a miraculous come-from-behind victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4, evening the series to two games a piece, and sending the next game back to Phoenix, where they now have a homecourt advantage.

They pulled out all the stops at just the right time, playing tough and with purpose. This has been the best battle of the playoffs so far, and might just be the best of the playoffs, period. One of these two teams will advance to the actual Finals, and then win in 6 games. (Against the Detroit Pistons.)

Meanwhile, the high-flying Golden State Warriors … my new second favorite team in pro hoops … seemed to have stumbled in the last few days, and found themselves down in a 3-1 hole against the much more disciplined Utah Jazz. And Game 5 is back in Utah now, where they might just finish it off. Mind you, i think the Warriors might win the next game, or even two, but it would take more than a miracle to win the next three.

Back East, the Cleveland Cavaliers have crushed the hopes of the once mighty, and now seemingly rudderless New Jersey Nets, and lead the series 3-1, going BACK to Cleveland. This in spite of Jason Kidd continuing to elevate his game to new historic levels. Tonights big game-losing brain-fart was committed by The Net's Vince Carter, as he fumbled the ball out of bounds with mere seconds left in the game, and down by two points.

The Pistons (as i alluded to earlier) will dismantle the young Chicago Bulls and eventually advance to the Finals, after their lock-down defense learns to contain contain Lebron James to human output levels, and winning over the Cavs in five games. That said, The Bull's will be a contender sooner than later, as they learn from some playoff losses and find their identity... and as guys in Detroit begin to slow down. Look for them in the Finals within the next five years.

So, anyway, i can't wait for Game 5 Suns vs Spurs back in Phoenix on Wednesday. The Suns might be down a player or two because of the bench-clearing flagrant foul Robert Horry picked up when he flattened Steve "man-of'-fucking-steel" Nash, but this is the type of game where as often as not, a couple other players who may have only played average ball thus far, erupt for career nights. Look for Raja Bell, Shawn Marion, and/or Leandro Barbosa to step it up two or three notches.

comic foundry

May 15, 2007 / More →

One of the coolest comics magazines to roll out in years, looks to be facing a serious uphill climb. Tim Leong's Comic Foundry kicks ass, plain and simple. This is an open letter to Tim Huckelberry, of Diamond Comics. Diamond has rejected Comic Foundry for distribution through their Previews catalog.

Hi Tim,

Just a quick, friendly note to let you know that, for whatever it may be worth, i think Tim Leong's Comic Foundry is an excellent magazine, that really deserves a chance at finding an audience. Besides that there's just too few good comics magazines in circulation as it is (and the more magazines there are, the more medium gets talked up, the better the sales of comics, which is goof for for all of us), i feel that Comic Foundry is the only contemporary comics magazine that successfully rides the middle-ground between the elitism of magazines like the Comics Journal and Comic Art, and the entrenched fanboy mags like Wizard, or even our own Comic Book Artist. (All of which i personally love, and devour with equal glee.)

Tim's content and design feel more to me like a "real-world" magazine, with sharp, staccato content mixed with a handful of lengthier articles and interviews, ala Wired magazine. And his editorial tastes are superb. This is the ONLY magazine on comics that i feel would appeal to the nascent populist comics readers, new to the medium. They might buy the magazine at a Border's and then pick up a graphic novel there as well. But if and when said reader evolves into a passionate fan, they will eventually find their way to a full-service comics shop (one supplied by Diamond), where the product selection is far-superior than a chain bookseller.

In fact, i'm such a fan of this magazine, that Top Shelf actually gave serious consideration to publishing it. In the end, the main thing holding us back, was our commitment to Jon Cooke's Comic Book Artist, and we felt we couldn't give to the proper support to two mags at once.

Comic Foundry, i think, fills a much-needed niche: a magazine that reaches out to new fans, and is neither too snooty and a turn-off, nor too entrenched in old-school, hard-core, fan-boy mythology, overloaded with confusing continuity. One with the perfect balance of mainstream (by comics' terminology), and indy sensibilities, in a gorgeously designed package. The perfect mag to root out the single most important niche that comics needs now more than ever... NEW READERS.

Comic Foundry makes good business sense for the health of the marketplace, please reconsider listing it in Previews.

Brett Warnock
Top Shelf Productions

go dog, go!

May 11, 2007 / More →

Holy crap... i've just been so freaking busy, i can't even think straight. Getting books "to bed" for the convention season has me working my ass off. Here's the massive number of books we have on press now or on route to the printer:
Death By Chocolate: Redux
Seasonal Sampler
Fox Bunny Funny
Incredible Change-Bots

• Meanwhile, i have read a few items worth mentioning as of late. First, and one of the most highly recommended prose books of the year, is by my pal Willy Vlautin, of the band Richmond Fontaine. His first novel, titled The Motel Life is heartwarming and heartbreaking in the same breath. Willy gave me the British paperback version by Faber and Faber, and i also bought the U.S. version by Harper Perennial, after i saw Willy do a reading at Powell's City of Books here in Portland.

Both versions of the book have beautiful illustrations and covers by Top Shelf webmaster Nate Beaty. I like the package of the UK version better, but the US version has an extra section in the back called "P.S.," which features an interview, song lyrics, and the like, so that version is cool too.

The book has been receiving incredible reviews, with comparisons to the likes of John Steinbeck, Raymond Carver, Denis Johnson, and Nick Cave.

When i met with Willy a few weeks ago to swap books with him, he also gave me an advance copy of the new Richmond Fontaine album, 13 Cities. Now, i know this sounds like a "but he's my friend" gush-fest, but in all seriousness, this new record by Fontaine is an aural masterpiece. Hands down their most layered and textured record ever. I've probably listened to this 50 times in the last month,

• Based on a recommendation at Cartoon Brew, i went and bought the new 150th Anniversary issue of DC Comics' Looney Tunes.

Among others this fun little gem features contributions from (writer) Joey Cavalieri, Stephen Destefano, Peter Bagge, Bob Fingerman, Aaron Renier, and Chynna Clugston.

Also new from the all-ages DC imprint, is the new issue (#33) of Justice League Unlimited, written by Jason (Pistolwhip) Hall. It features a classic polar-opposites turned friends buddy story with the elder Crimson Avenger, and hipster youth Star Girl. Art chores by Carlo Barberi and Bob Petrecca do a superb job of capturing the best of the "animated style," while retaining a unique style all its own. I dig the occasional issue of the DC animated books, since they often showcase some of the indy peeps.

• Somehow i was sent this nifty piece of art by Art Adams (with Nick Bradshaw), from the story Seven Seas, in a book called Dream Compass, by Chris Stevens. The book also features art by Farel Dalyrmple, Jae Lee, Stephen Gilpin, Nate Powell, and James Jean.

• There's so much more to write about... reader (and cartoonist, about whom i shall blog more on at a later date) Josh Frankel asked me wherefore mine own basketball thoughts. Ah yes, the second round, what fun it is. Again, more later.

I'm going to have to do just this quick update, since i'm just too buzzed to write more … having just returned from a few rounds of beers with Steve Lafler, Garret Izumi, and Scott Mills … and i need to get SOMETHING up before i leave town this weekend.

slow like molasses...

May 1, 2007 / More →

Pretty sick right now, playing leap-frog illness with The Kid, who swims in a cesspool of germs five days a week at day care. Well, that and all the road-tripping has me pretty beat down too.

• Meanwhile, here's some news from both Matt Kindt and Jason Hall, co-creators of the tres fabu Pistolwhip universe.

Kindt received his fourth career nomination from the Eisner judges. He was nominated along with Brett Warnock for their design of Alan Moore's controversial book Lost Girls for Top Shelf. For a list of all the nominees click HERE.

Matt will be appearing every Wednesday and Thursday from 9:30 - 4:30 at the St. Louis Science Center at the Marvel Comics Exhibit through September. He will be on display (along with Peter Pranschke and Dan Zettwoch) for all onlookers as he works on his new comic book projects. Come by for a sketch or chat or just to climb the awesome rock wall that is directly behind his drawing table. For more information on times and admission prices click HERE.

Matt Kindt's weekly on-line graphic novel is being sent to the presses as this is being written! It will be in-stores by July and is a whopping 337 pages of full color art and story! It retails for $19.95 and can be pre-ordered (and previewed) HERE!

Matt Kindt's year-long weekly comic is now complete! There are two more weeks to come involving a giant flash animation and a making-of video and documentary. Go here to read the rave reviews and read the entire 50 episodes HERE!

Matt Kindt will be appearing at several conventions this summer including:
MoCCA in New York (June 23-24)
San Diego Comicon (July 26-29)
Chicago Wizard World (August 9-12)
Art show and book release party: Subterranean books on July 13th

Matt finished a short story with Harvey Pekar over the summer that will be appearing in the anthology Postcards published by Random House. He also did the cover illustration and interior design. You can preview and order it HERE. In stores in June.

Matt has completed an 8 page series of stories called "The Misery Index" for the new Indie Spinner Rack Anthology. The stories are all true and accurate accounts of Kindt's friends' "most miserable stories". To see a list of all of the contributors to the book, click HERE.

Kindt has fullfilled a life-long ambition to write and draw a Tick story. To read more about it go HERE. It's in-stores in June.

"Who am I? I co-created Pistolwhip Comics, and have written Pistolwhip: The Yellow Menace and Mephisto and the Empty Box for Top Shelf; Beware The Creeper and Trigger for Vertigo; Star Wars stuff, Hellboy stuff, Crush, and The Escapist for Dark Horse; Batman/Gotham Adventures, Justice League Adventures, Justice League Unlimited, and Detective Comics for DC; and some other stuff... And here's what I'm up to now..."

ITEM #1: My DC Animated Universe body of work continues to grow with this week's release of Justice League Unlimited #33. It's features Crimson Avenger and Stargirl and has appearances by a slew of other JSA-related characters. I'm really happy with how it turned out and I think readers of all-ages will enjoy it. Solicitation information can be found at DC Comics:

You can read an in-depth interview, with behind-the-scenes revelations about the issue with Toon Zone and World's Finest here.

I also did a short interview about it with Pulse, which will run soon

ITEM #2: I did my first "in person" live interview with STUN! Listen to me ramble on about a variety of topics (for almost thirty minutes!) here.

ITEM #3: After an unprecedented nine stories in Star Wars Tales, I return to the Star Wars Universe with a story in the upcoming Clone Wars Adventures Volume 8, which features the return of a character I originally created in an issue of Tales. Solicitation information from Dark Horse here.

ITEM #4: I have also written what will be the third volume of the Hellboy Animated series of graphic novels! Entitled, "The Menagerie," it should be out sometime in the latter half of the year from Dark Horse, featuring artwork by returning artist Rick Lacy.

ITEM #5: Speaking of Hellboy, I am co-author on the upcoming Hellboy Companion, having written the expansive official timeline section of the book. Solicitation information from Dark Horse here.

ITEM #6: And in case you missed it, I wrote the graphic novel adaptation of the Sam Raimi produced horror movie The Messengers, featuring artwork by the legendary Kelley Jones. Solicitation information from Dark Horse here.

ITEM #7: I've added a new section to my website called When the monkey speaks... in the WHEN? section. There you can read the most recent stuff I'm up to. Check it out at the link to my website here.

...home again

April 26, 2007 / More →

APE was a righteous blast again this year.

Too busy for a longwinded, detailed travelogue, but it went something like this.

THURSDAY: Drove down with Bwana, landing in Oakland in the early evening. I dropped Bwana off at a BART station and got lost finding Scott Morse's pad in the Oakland Hills. Arrived and spent a little time playing with wee little Finn Morse, before he was off to bed. Threw down a beer or two and stayed up shooting the shit with Scott before crashing hard.

FRIDAY: Woke up in the morning, talked about raising boys with Scott's wife Danielle, and then Scott and myself left to pick up Chris (AdHouse) Pitzer at the Oakland airport, and a trip to the swanky Pixar campus. In a word, wow! What a freaking playland, and seeming killer place to work.

(Picture by Chris Pitzer.)

Scott and three other gents at Pixar produced an AMAZINGLY beautiful art book called The Ancient Book of Myth and War, which Scott and Chris co-published. We met two of these cats, Lou Romano and Don Shank. Both these guys have blogs that shatter the senses. I'm really not sure if i can post any of their art here, so i HIGHLY recommend you check this stuff out. Two absolute fucking masters at work.

Then, Scott, Chris, Don and myself went out to lunch at the original Trader Vics. The food was fabulous (seared Ahi on my plate, please), and we all sucked down a couple bitchin' mai tais, putting a fine glow on the afternoon. Supposedly, Trader Vics invented the venerable mai tai, and as a connoisseur, i can tell you that i wouldn't doubt it for a second. These were some seriously tastey cocktails.

(PIcture by Chris Pitzer.)

Back to Scott's for a little down-time and more play with Finn, then i drove across the Bay Bridge, into downtown, checked into the Beresford Inn, and met up with old buddy Patrick Jodoin for some suds, nachos, hockey, and a nightcap beer at one of my favorite SF watering holes, The Toronado on lower Haight. They have a jaw-dropping beer list.

Mmmm... beer.

SATURDAY: Woke up, and drove down to the Concourse with my roommate for the weekend, Jeffrey Brown. Ex-intern and Top Shelf goddess Jacquelene joined us, and they set up the table, while i went to the diner across the street and nursed a hangover with some corned beef hash and eggs, over-easy of course.

Jeremy Tinder and Renee French showed up to work the table as well. (Lilli Carre, Nate Powell, Scott Morse, and Derek Kirk Kim were also in the house, but were all tabling on their own.) Jeremy was selling oodles of his neat little paintings, plus a number of adorable stuffed animals he made.

The show started out fairly slow. Maybe it was the competing Earth Day activities going on, but nonetheless, by early afternoon the joint was jumpin'. Sales were brisk, and the vibe was groovy.

That night i harveled down some grubbin' mexican food with Rob and Georgine Goodin (they of Robot Publishing), after which i worked my second annual bartending gig for the Isotope Mini-Comics Award After-party. Along with Kirsten and Adrienne, we rocked the house. I mixed mostly margaritas until i ran out of ingredients, and i didn't even have bartender's elbow (similar to "tennis elbow") the next day.

Once again, i got a little ham-boned. Luckily Georgine was kind enough to drive me back to the hotel. (Thanks, G!)

SUNDAY: Woke up and walked down to the show with Jeffrey. A nice little 30-minute walk, sun shining and the fresh air working away at this new hangover.

Again, the place was alive. We did some wholesale with a handful local vendors (Comic Relief, Lee's Comics, Needles and Pins, Giant Robot, Nuclear Comics, and one or two more), and by the end of the day, this turned out to be one of the most successful and fun APEs in memory.

I picked up lots of loot, saw some old friends and made some new, and was out the door no more than 30 minutes after the show closed to the public. Kudos to the organizers, and the folks who worked the table.

That night for dinner i hooked up with my excellent old comics pal Josue Menjivar, and his lady Anastasia. We met at some funky old Irish restaurant near our hotels, and got to catch the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors spank the one-seed Dallas Mavericks. It was a glorious game, and along with the company was an ideal way to end the weekend.

MONDAY: Tired. Picked up Bwana. Drove home. Stayed up well-beyond when i should have gone to bed, and watched a replay of the Suns/Lakers game one on ESPN.

• Top Shelf stalwart Jacquelene took some choice photos, which you can find here on a Flickr page. I think she's going to post the whole set on our MySpace page. This one is Jeffrey, Renee, and Jeremy.

• I snagged this photo of the Kochalka-Corner from The Great White Snark blog.

• This one of Renee and myself from Lee Hester's blog.

• Like i said, i scored some great shit at the show...

Nick Mullins continues to quietly produce beautiful comics, and gave me his two recent outings. Nick's work is really sublime. He's a real interesting, formalist-minded cartoonist, who is criminally under the radar.

• Robbie Robbins at iDW hooked me up with the second Dick Tracey volume and the first two editions of his stunning new series of artists books in a line called SPARROW, these first two featuring Ashley Wood and Phil Hale.

• Talked all-too-briefly with super-sweet Rebecca from Drawn & Quarterly, and walked away with the mammoth new tome, King-Cat Classix, a MUST-HAVE hardcover which features excerpts from the first 50 issues of John Porcellino's seminal punk-rock zine mini-comic King-Cat. Besides that i've been a raving and loud lunatic for John's comics over the years, this handsome collection will surely be known as one of the greatest collections of contemporary cartooning know to man-kind. This is not hyperbole. I kid you not... buy this book. It's truly remarkable.

• Stuart Ng was on hand and sold me the new issue (#9) of Animation Blast!, Amid Amini's vital animation-arts magazine, after a four year hiatus. The wait was SOOOOOO worth it. This new edition is the first in a line of annuals, which makes the jump from a more regular magazine, to a fat, perfect-bound bookshelf item.

If you like animation and its history, this book is indispensable.

Amid also created a new animation website called Cartoon Brew, and from all accounts, it's already one of the more widely respected a highly visited sites on the web.

APE-bound in the morning...

April 19, 2007 / More →

I had to wake up with the kid this morning, so i went to bed "early" last night (i'm usually up until about 3:00 a.m.), and of course, i was unable to fall asleep until hours and hours later, as the sun was coming up.

And now, i'll be getting up early again for the annual APE road trip with my pal Bwana Spoons, down I-5, across the border and into Northern California and the truly awe-inspiring Mt Shasta wilderness/lake area. We'll head down past Redding (home of the Liquor Bar … it's huge, like Home Depot huge, but it's ALL booze!), then eventually cut across diagonally on the 505, and then onto the I-80. I-80 is great for me on this trip. It's like one long strip mall, with a highway running through the middle of it, and after i've been behind the wheel all day, it's a total adrenaline rush, what with the blinding speed of people obviously with places to be. The slow lanes cruise at 60 - 65 MPH, and the fast lane hovers usually between 85-90 MPH.

I'm staying the first night in Oakland, with Scott Morse. Whoo hoo!

• Dave K. has a new 20-page comic, about girls hanging out at the mall, up on his website.

• Received this shameless self-promotion in my email in-box, from some students at the Center for Cartoon Studies. How can i turn THAT down. Glad to, in fact. There's some good stuff therein.

"My name is Adam Staffaroni and I'm currently a student at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont. A group of other students and I got together to create a collective website to showcase all the work we've been doing. The site is titled I Know Joe Kimpel.

"We have a minicomics store which, in addition to student work, has work from CCS Fellow Ken Dahl and artist/sometimes professor Rich Tommaso. We've just added a blog to post artwork samples, updates on our projects, and about all the visiting artists constantly coming to the school. Also, some students are already receiving very good reviews from The Comics Journal and Indie Spinner Rack.

• In the same vein, Jeffrey Brown wrote to tell me about the new Holy Consumpton blog where he'll be posting about upcoming events and signings. Speaking of which, Jeffrey will be signing copies of his new book Feeble Attmpts this Friday night at Giant Robot in San Francisco. (Off upper Haight, around the corner from Amoeba Records.)

blog bliggity

April 17, 2007 / More →

I'm guessing there might be a few Top Shelf fans out there who tire of my fanboy ramblings. Several months ago i ranted on and on about what i think i one of the single greatest men-in-tights collections ever, the X-Men Omnibus, collecting the bulk of the infamous Claremont/Byrne run, so fondly remembered by aging geeks everywhere.

Well, for those elitist snobs who poo-poo on the idea of legitimacy of spandex comics as an "art form," along comes one of the most gorgeous hardcover collections ever to grace American shores. From Dutch publisher Oog & Blik (the same folks who did those wonderful Waiting for Food books by Crumb), comes The Complete Universe of Dupuy & Berberian.

Now granted, this really isn't comics. But this two-man team extraordinaire, who together created the great Monsieur Jean stories in French (and partially collected in North America by Drawn & Quarterly), are such amazing illustrators, that this hodgepodge of miscellaneous freelance jobs, sketchbook drawings, wine labels and whatnot, is so mouth-wateringly stunning, that you won't care that, A) it's not "really" comics, and B) it comes with a $55 price-tag.

Seriously, this is the art-fag equivalent of the fanboy's X-Men Omnibus. It might be hard to find (since 90% of the North American comics retailers wouldn't recognize great work like this if it bit them on the leg), but if you happen to live near one of the few stellar comics shops around, then track this down. It's THAT good.


From the Previews solicitation:
A beautiful retrospective of the work of Phillipe Dupuy and Charles Berberian, best known for their Drawn & Quaterly publication Monsieur Jean. Over tewnty years of collaborations are featured here including their portaryals of everyday Parisian life, homages to Billie Holiday and Jacques Tati, and their commercial art for book jackets and CD covers.

You can read part of the Comics Journal interview with Dupuy & berberian here, but you'll need to track down the actual issue to read the entire thing. And it's well worth the effort.

The only image i could find was this tiny cover i nicked from Christopher Butcher's sublime blog. It's enough to give one an idea of what to look for... meanwhile, i've also pulled an image from Dupuy and Berberian's official website.

• Graham Annable writes:
Show: Music of Hickee Mountain
Location: Red Bird Studios, 135 Avenue Van Horn, Montréal, QC, Canada
When: Thursday April 26th, 2007 8pm

(Brett writes: These Hickee cats are all incredible ink-studs... i really wish i could hit this gig.)

• And here is the fourth set of theater ads Chris Ross did for us, these featuring Owly, in a set we co-opted with Guapo Comics.

•Â Oh, and i'll be down at APE this weekend, so if you're in San Francisco, you should swing by. It's still one of the most important, energizing, and fun conventions in comics. More like one of the many fine festivals you might find in Europe (which are all about celebrating the art form), than the plethora of crappy flea-market cons here in the good ol' USA.

Renee French's new book Micrographica will be there (as will Renee herself), plus i just received a handful of advance copies of James Kochalka's SuperF*ckers #4. It's a hoot.

Also appearing from Top Shelf will be Jeffrey Brown, Lilli Carre (i think...), Jeremy Tinder, Nate Powell, and long-lost pal and fabulous cartoonist Josue Menjivar.


hat trick

April 12, 2007 / More →

Jeff Lemire's eagle eye spotted this sign along the rink boards, when his hockey team, The Flying Burritos, were playing in a tournament this last weekend.

Pretty damn cool, eh?

•Â And here's more of the ads Chris Ross made for our Laurelhurst Theater ad co-op.

so much happening

April 7, 2007 / More →

Back from Emerald City in Seattle last weekend (which is, unfortunately becoming more a "hot-creator" mainstream show, and less indy friendly) and already i'm gearing up for my annual trip to APE, back down in San Francisco.

(The Fantagraphics party was a hoot, though; hosted at their store, it's located in some seedy industrial neighborhood in South Seattle, chockablock with cool bars and even some goats tied up on the sidewalk. Also great fun was hanging out with former intern Carlos, and his delightful girlfriend, whose name i suddenly can't remember.)

Tonight, the family heads over to cartoonist extraordinaire and great pal Garret Izumi's place, to be guinea pigs sampling his mole´, which he plans to enter into a Betty Crocker contest. Who said comics people only eat mac & cheese for dinner! (Well, certainly not Matt Wagner, who's cuisine i've had the pleasure of sampling. Mmmm... he's REALLY a great chef.)

Anyway, moving right along...

• Webmaster Nate has updated the comics section of our site.

There's some really fine work up there, featuring Steven Dhondt (Stedho), Brecht Evens, Zeno Sworder, J.D. Wilkes, and Jeff Zwirek.

• Tom Hart's syndicated comic strips is loads of fun. Don't believe me? Then check out this, this, and this.

Here's a sample.

• More YouTube fun... two absolutely freaking wingnuts … O'Reilly and Geraldo … going toe-to-toe. And weirdly enough, even though he's become a huge joke in recent years, i love how Geraldo held his ground here. An epic battle of talking heads.

• James Kochalka continues to send me weird links, and i'm glad, because it's often quite interesting, ergo fodder for the blog!

And speaking of Kochalka, WIRED magazine's blog posted a neat plug for his "monster Mii" diary strip.

• Dave K. recently posted some comics that he has in recent/upcoming publications.

The color comic will appear in the next issue of Meathaus (summer 2007)
The black and white piece appears in Syncopated #3 (out now)

(Here's a cool image i nicked from his blog.)

• The Daily Cross Hatch has a nice piece about ink-stud Alec Longstreth.

•Â I can't recall if i posted UIana Zahajkewycz's final poster design for our 10-Year Anniversary or not, so here it is again. I can't wait to see this in print!

•Â Finally, here is another round of ads that Chris Ross put together for the co-opt ads we made with Portland-area retailers (this one with Counter Media), which run at the Laurelhurst Theater.

i'm off to see the wizard...

March 30, 2007 / More →

• Off in the morning to Seattle for the Emerald City Con.

If you too are in Seattle this weekend for the Emerald City Con, don't miss this event on Saturday at the Fantagraphics store. The Fanta gang are trying to rectify the lack of parties at this show, and i for one am stoked! There will be a Jim Woodring show up in their gallery, plus there are bars and restaurants galore in the vicinity. Whoo hoo!

• How cool is Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams? So cool, he's hosting a First Thursday event at City Hall, featuring work by local cartoonists and illustrators 5th, from 5 - 7p.m. Artists include Bwana Spoons, Martin Ontiveros, Carson Ellis, Jenn Manley-Lee, Steve Lafler, Shannon Wheeler, and more.

• Here, here! Howard Zinn on why i think that for as loathsome as GOP ideology and policy is, so are most Dems a bunch of weak-kneed wussies. I dream of a day when we have real, people-powed human beings leading our country. Ah, some day...

• Fanboy ALERT!! Indy snobs, read no further. In case you missed it, the recent Anniversary issue of Fantastic Four (#543) has two fabulous back-up stories, neither of which have ANYTHING to do with this whole stupid Civil War bullshit. The first story, "If This Be... Anniversary," is penned by none other than Stan The Man Lee himself, with bitchin' art by some dude named Nick Dragotta and inks by Mike Allred. It's a load of fun, as is the next story, written and drawn by Paul Pope, with colors by super-stud Jose Villarrubia. With "A Day at the Races," Pope proves that he really truly "gets" the Marvel Universe, in which Johnny Storm and Spider-Man compete for attention.

(The feature story is in current continuity, and thus i just couldn't get into it at all. To be fair, i liked the initial concept and ideas behind Civil War, and actually loved the Illuminati one-shot... but after that, it lost steam and simply didn't live up to the hype.)

• Things you should check out and buy, from the new Diamond Previews.

P. 080 Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus vol. 2
P. 257 Elvis Road Hardcover. Buenaventura Press
P. 300 The Black Diamond Detective Agency, by Eddie Campbell (:01 First Second)
P. 342 Mantlo: A Life in Comics, edited by David Yurkovich
P. 366 Modern Masters Vol.12: Michael Golden. (TwoMorrows)

This last item especially makes me tremble with joy.

• Anthology whore that i am, i'm surprised it took me as long as it did, to give a new kid on the block, C'est Bon, a chance. I think i was maybe turned off by the magazine format at first. In any case, the cover for the recent issue #2 kicked my ass, so i picked it up, and am glad i did. I went and rooted out issue #1, and i'm officially a convert.

Details are skimpy, but this is an English-language anthology out of Sweden. Lot's of great material by familiar faces and emerging stars from North America and Europe, with contributors like Martin Tom Dieck, Ho Che Anderson, R. Kikuo Johnson, Daniel Zezelj, Vincent (King Mini) Stall, and Dash Shaw. But there are plenty of new faces too; favorites for me were standouts like Arne Bellstorf, Jimmy Jonsson & Maria Fredriksson, Daniel Savovic, Chiu Kwong Man, Jessica Khane & Pedro Nore, and Jyrki Heikkinen.

It's one of the best anthologies i've come across that effectively blends a decidedly sophisticated European aesthetic with a North American strut. Kudos to editor Mattias Elftorp and staff on a delicious comics feast.

• I recently received an interesting seeming newsletter, that, unfortunately i couldn't read, as it was in Spanish. But this attachment came with it. A beauteous illustration by Brais Rodríguez.

• Another one of the Renee French pieces which will hang in a group show at some two-bit museum, in Europe maybe? What was it called...? Oh yeah, The Louvre.

• Here's a neat piece by Matt Kindt. (Matt, i hope you don't mind that i post this... it's just too cool.)

• Digging through some old emails, i found this cover design and paper-doll illustration by kick-ass German cartoonist Markus Mahwil.

top shelf's civil war!!

March 26, 2007 / More →

Marvel isn't the only publisher with a Civil War on their hands. Today, my alma mater Oregon Ducks faced Rob Venditti's repeat champion Florida Gators. A great battle it was, but in the end, the Gator's just proved too big and powerful to handle.

No shame in advancing as far as the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament, however. A tip o' the hat to the players and coaches for an amazing season.

• Here's the first in a series of ads our production guy (and former intern) Chris Ross made for my favorite local pub-theater, mere blocks from my house.

• Xeric Award Winning cartoonist Jeff Lemire (Lost Dogs) has launched a new web comic entitled SOFT INSTRUMENTS. The science-fiction/steam punk strip will be serialized regularly on Lemire's new blog. The new project's launch coincides with the release of his new graphic novel Tales From The Farm published in March by Top Shelf Comix.

Welcome to 1997, in a world much different from our own. The rise of the steam age prevented the industrial revolution as we know it from ever having occurred at all. As the world's only steam powered juggernaut, Great Britain spread out and assimilated the rest of Europe into the Anglo-centric super power The Union of European Allies. The cultures and languages of these occupied countries were eventually forgotten or pushed far underground, as the Victorian way was cultivated and held onto as the dominant and accepted culture.

As our tale begins, fabled explorer, scientist, adventurer and Gentleman, Dr. Elezear Zednik is sent to Union Territory #617-03 to investigate a rash of mysterious disappearances among the city's factory workers. As he arrives he is met with hostility and mistrust by the local constabulary...

For more details check out Lemire's website.

• I'll be attending the Emerald City Con next weekend (March 31 & April 1), and while the show has not developed into the indy-friendly type of show i was hoping it might, based on a fabulous first con, this year they'll have in attendance one of my all-time favorite comic artists EVER. In fact, if he had been more prolific over the years, he probably would have eclipsed the likes of John Byrne and Art Adams for that top spot, not that Art Adams is the picture of prolific. I'm speaking of none other than artist extraordinaire, Michael Golden. This guy's touch is so fucking sweet, he's one of the only artists i'm so hot for, i'll buy a comic he did the cover for, just so i can rip it off and put in in a portfolio. (Two others fit that bill... the afore-mentioned Art Adams, and Mike Mignola.)

As luck would have it, Mr Golden did this year's Emerald City Con poster. Check it out!!

• A bitchin' looking show coming up at Gallery Nucleus, called featuring work from The Ancient Book of War. It's art by Scoot Morse and some of his pals from Pixar.

Morse is a freaking genius, and his buddies in animation are pretty much mind-blowing artists all around. As Tom (The Spurg) Spurgeon would say, "If i were in L.A., i'd go to this."

Farel Dalrymple sent a link to an event here in Portland featuring Jonathan (Fortress of Solitude) Lethem ,with whom Farel is working on Omega Man.

Jonathan Lethem
April 12, 2007
Portland Arts & Lectures

• Meanwhile, two hours south in Eugene, old professor and friend of mine, Ken O'Connell currently has some work hanging at Jacobs Gallery in the Hult Center. He writes:

"Here are some images from the show of my sketchbooks from ITALY and the large, sometimes huge (2 feet by 4 feet) prints, that I have made from the sketches. I scan them at 1200 dots per inch and then enlarge and work on the image in photoshop. Then I printed on Summerset velvet rag paper with pigment archival inks. The paper is hung with eyelets soyou can see the paper without glass or plexi in front of it. The Show is up until April 21."

•Â Finally, feast your eyes on another Renee French piece for the Paris show she''' be in, with Jim Woodring, among others.

sad good-bye

March 20, 2007 / More →

• A sad day here at Top Shelf, with the recent news from Andrew D. Arnold, that he's ending his tenure at Time, as one of the most important figures in legitimizing comics into the mainstream, with his exceptional taste in comics, and a decidedly well-received column. His efforts will be missed.

You could do worse than spending some quality leisure time perusing his archived columns.

Best of luck, Andrew.

• The first arc ends for Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' Criminal. I loved this issue as much as any, and i HIGHLY recommend this book, but as happens often with serialized pamphlet comics, it seemed to end with a bit of a fizzle. This will read great as a trade, and i'm looking forward the to the next storyline.

Oh, and the mini-roundtable on Neo-Noir was excellent too. One of the reasons this is the ONLY monthly floppy i buy, knowing i'll buy the trade too.

• David Yurkovich (who's Death By Chocolate: Redux comes out in July) was recently interviewed at Comic World News, about his forthcoming Bill Mantlo tribute book.

• Rob Vollmar (Author of Bluesman) is scheduled to be on a nationally syndicated radio show on NPR, HERE ON EARTH: RADIO WITHOUT BORDERS, Tuesday May 20th (today) from 3 to 4 PM CST. The show is highlighting the most recent issue of WORLD LITERATURE TODAY magazine that focuses on graphic novels as a literary phenomenon to which I contributed.

You can find out more, including local times and availability here.

The show will be archived on the site and available as an MP3 download for at least a month after the show airs.

• More nifty paintings from Gregory Benton, part of a show at the Aidan Savoy Gallery, 175 Stanton Street (east of Clinton) in NYC.

Deep End
Curated by Alix Sloan
With works by:
Diane Barcelowsky, Gregory Benton, William Crump, Jeffrey Decoster, Andrew DeGraff, Edward del Rosario, Cara Enteles, Marsea Goldberg, Frieda Gossett, Katherine Guillen, Matt Hansel, Jane Irish, Victor Kerlow, Zohar Lazar, Adele Mildred, Russell Nachman, Jennifer Poon, Sally Sloan, Erika Somogyi, Aaron Smith, Eric White and Courtney Wotherspoon
May 3 - June 2, 2007
Reception: Thursday, May 3rd, 7-10pm

• While DC puts out its fair share of really questionable comics, a couple recently solicited trades look fantastic.

Jimmy Olson. Reprints some whacky 60's-era stories. This book will be a great companion to the Bizzaro World and Imaginary Stories collections. (The latter of which also sports a bitchin' cover by the inimitable Brian Bolland.)

Batgirl. Also circa mid-60's, this baby features gorgeous art by two vets at their prime, Gil Kane and Carmine Infantino.

• Last Friday was Steve Lafler's birthday. Happy 50 Steve! And thanks for the great thai food spread! Here's a recent painting Steve did for his new book Cat Suit, and a picture Garret Izumi took at dinner last Friday. We're pretty blessed.

• And finally, as we pass four years of this incredible ill-begotten, oil-induced, cowboy adventure in Iraq, let's not forget the unlucky ones, and what the face of War really looks like. (Photo. Eros Hoagland. New York Times.)

...and now gonzales-gate

March 16, 2007 / More →

Geez, years of scandal after scandal are finally catching up with the Bushies, and finally Rove is in the cross-hairs. Believe me, i'm no huge fan of the Dems, but i seriously can't wait to get one into the Whitehouse in '08, so housecleaning can begin in earnest. History records will almost certainly be crushed, once the entirety of the administration's activities see the light of day.

•Â Renee French has some drawings in a show at the Adam Baumgold Gallery that opens on March 23rd and runs to April 22. The show includes Anke Feuchtenberger, Tom Gauld, Marc Bell, Saul Steinberg and more...

• So i just finished reading an amazing memoir by Teruyo Nogami, who was Akira Kursawa's long-time continuity/script supervisor. It's titled Waiting on the Weather: Making Movies with Akira Kurosawa. And it's amazing. Absolutely a wonderful recollection of little moments of being on-set whilst making some of the world's greatest films.

HIGHLY recommended for film buffs.

• Here's another beauty flyer from Jim Mahfood.

• Portland event alert! FLOATING WORLD COMICS PRESENTS: Rick Remender and Kieron Dwyer have been making the world safe for independent & non-superhero comics ever since the early 90's with underground hits like Black Heart Billy and LCD (although they've also done their part in making superhero comics that don't suck).

Both artists, along with Joseph Cross and Brian Churilla, will be at FLOATING WORLD on Thursday, April 5th from 6-10pm, saying hello to fans and displaying a ton of original artwook and books. Joseph Cross designed these incredibly gorgeous new logos, posters, mascots, and images for the store. These prints and other merchandise (bags, t-shirts) will make their debut at this First Thursday show.

•Â Here are two sweet promotional images Jeff lemire made to promote his Essex County trilogy, the first book of which (Tales From the Farm), is out now.

• Ulana Zahajkewycz is one step closer to our final anniversary poster, and it's a beauty.

• Finally, from fabulous artist and cartoonist, Rami Efal's email newsletter:

"Through the past two years I have been drawing and paintings to local jazz and blues music spanning Tel Aviv, Tokyo and New York City. Starting March 15th through April 11th 2007, these paintings and drawings will be on display at the Park Slope Tea Lounge in Brooklyn. Come and enjoy a cup of tea or a glass of red wine and view the works. Artwork is for sale and 50% of proceeds will go to Children International in support of impoverished children and those affected by recent floods in central Asia."

Tea Lounge Park Slope @ 837 Union Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues, Brooklyn, NY. Subway: R to Union Street; 2,3 to Grand Army Plaza


March 11, 2007 / More →

Just back a few nights ago from WonderCon down in San Francisco. It's pretty much a "spectacle" show, meaning most attendees come to see the big stars and aging, has-been, child television personalities, and not so much to buy alternative comics. That said, it's still well worth doing for PR purposes alone, and damn do i love San Francisco. The weather was gorgeous, though i spent most of my time underground in the giant hall.

I stayed the first and last night of my trip with old pal Wayne Shellabarger. (Who's book The Veeps we'll be publishing next Fall.) Wayne is a fanatical film freak, and has an extensive dvd collection. We watched one of the most fucked up film noir films i've EVER seen, called Kiss Me Deadly, with a screenplay by Mickey Spillane. I call it film noir, even though the end of the flick is decidedly science fiction. Wow. Crazy stuff.

The ONI guys let me crash their hotel room for three nights... many thanks James and Randy!

At the show, i was horrified to discovered that the man behind the mask (Peter Mayhew) of one of my childhood gods, Chewbacca, was a dick to his fans. He was only too happy to take their money for a lame glossy photo, but god forbid a fan tried to make conversation. Yeesh.

On the plus side, Portlander Shannon Stewart saw fit to swing by with none other than Tom Waits, his wife, and one of his sons. What a super-nice guy. I'm not one to get start-struck a whole lot, but i have to say, that was cool as heck.

Food is great in SF, and two nights in a row i feasted at a brewpub called The Thirsty Bear, which served Spanish tapas. Insanely good food, and great beer.

After the last day of the show, on my way to Wayne's pad i stopped to drop in for a visit to Isotope Comics, got lost, and accidentally discovered a fabulous little bookstore called Bibliohead Bookkstore, at 334 Gough Street. The guy working there, Jeff, was a total comics-head, and was quite familiar with Top Shelf.

• Here's an interesting interview with the new Comics International editor Mike Conroy. I've often seen this comics magazine around, and i have a modicum of respect for Dez Skinn's place in the development of British Comics over the years, but the magazine has seemed pretty irrelevant in the past (it really never provided anything i didn't get elsewhere), so i never bought it.

But after reading this, i'm certainly willing to check out the new issue.

I'll report back once i do.

• A boatload of Kochalka paintings are up for sale online at Giant Robot now.

Here's pics from the opening reception.

• Craig Yoe is at it again. This guy is a fucking comics savant, and i eagerly await every new book he does.

"The Arf Lovers blog relaunches today with new zowie techie thrills like rss feed, perma-links, comments and lots of new links. I do the blog to promote the "Arf" book series and other books I do and to highlight cartoonists I enjoy, new and old skool. And to just have some fun. So, subscribe or bookmark and also please link if you have a blog yourself. And I welcome your feedback in the new comments link under each post.

"The new "Arf" book, Arf Forum, is now at the printer and can be ordered at a discount on Amazon, or you can wait for the edition with the bookplate from Budplant.com. I think it's the best volume yet with unknown surreal genius Ted Scheel and sexy genius Kremos and rare stuff by known geniuses like Bill Holman and George Herriman. And my hero Stan Lee. Starting on Volume 4 of Arf just after I finish my next book...

"Clean Cartoonists' Dirty Drawings (Last Gasp). This will be slighty risque to pretty raunchy comics and cartoons by cartoonists known for their mainstream wholesome stuff. So you'll see nudes by Milton Caniff, Rube Goldberg, Will Eisner, Joe Shuster, Bob Kane, Mort Walker, Dr. Suess, etc. Clean Cartoonsts' Dirty Drawings can also be ordered now so you can be the first on your block to hide it under your mattress."

A list of books you can order now:
Modern Arf
Arf Museum
Arf Forum
Clean Cartoonists' Dirty Drawings

To write Craig Yoe: yoecomix@hotmail.com

•Â Some nifty new images.

Jeffrey Brown's final cover for our upcoming seasonal sampler book, and the flyer for his forthcoming UK Tour.

Ulana Zahajkewycz's final inked drawing for our upcoming Anniversary poster.

and i wept like a baby...

February 27, 2007 / More →

The O.C. is gone! A television show which my wife had to originally entrap me into watching … because of the comics angle, natch … hooked me in the biggest way, and like all good television, i'm truly sad to see these characters go. The O.C. certainly had its share of cheese, and it was unapologetic about it, but it also had lots of heart, and in the end that's what matters to me. AND season 3 had a Blankets sighting as well. (Thanks, Ian!) Kudos cast & crew for a good run.

• Allow me now to turn your attention to some more work by the incredible Austrian cartoonist Nicolas Mahler, published by our friends La Pasteque up in Montreal. These four books are either silent or in English (despite them being a mostly French language publisher), so while the titles might be French, the books can be read in their entirety. Désir, Shitty Art Book, Bad Job, and Poèmes. (I couldn't find any large images, unfortunately.)

And as per usual, Mahler proves himself to be an incredible cartoonist, yet sadly unknown in North America. I hope i can change this.

In fact, i'll start right now. Order now, and you can buy both Mahler books published by Top Shelf … Lone Racer and Van Helsing's Night Off, each priced at $13 each) for only $20. That's $6 savings.

• Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery and Georgetown Records Present Filthy Beasts, featuring music by the DT’s and art by Jim Blanchard on March 10.

Saturday, March 10 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, in association with Georgetown Records, host an evening of fine art and raucous rock n roll. Filthy Beasts combines the CD release of the DT’s Filthy Habits recording on the Get Hip label with an exhibition and signing of Jim Blanchard’s Beasts and Priests title on Seattle’s Fantagraphics Books imprint. This festive event is free to the public of all ages. Georgetown Records and Fantagraphics Bookstore are located at 1201 S. Vale. St., at the corner of S. Vale and Airport Way S. in the heart of the Seattle’s historic Georgetown district.

I'm sure you can read more about this event at the excellent Flog! The Fantagraphics blog.

• Here are finished pencils of the Jeffrey Brown cover for our forthcoming Seasonal Sampler book.

• John Weeks, international comics pimp, has a new update. He writes:
Our Books, a local nonprofit focused on Khmer comics, is pleased to announce that a new web comic is online. "Life's Choices" is available in English and Khmer at:


The story was developed in cooperation with PACT, with support from Danida and USAID. The comic aims to raise awareness about corruption in everyday life and how individuals can respond. Print copies are available via Our Books in Phnom Penh.

• My god, the more i learn about our nefarious government, i sink can only sink my head in my hands. Here, Naomi Klein writes about U.S. psychological torture, which literally drives people insane; and often on untried, unconvicted innocents rounded up and sent to Guantánamo Bay, or any number of illegal prisons around the world. Fucked up and disturbing. This administration will go down as one of the most horrific, regressive, and human rights/civil liberties damaging regimes in the history of the world.

• Marty finally won his Oscar. The Departed won a few, in fact. Good for you, Mr Scorcese.

• O.k. then, right as Staros is getting back from the New York Con, i'm leaving bright and early in tomorrow morning for San Francisco, and WonderCon.

•Â And finally, just because i stumbled onto it on the internet...

Ciao, baby!