September 21, 2009 / More →
Has it really been that long since the last blog post? O.k. here's a few nuggets for your perusal.
• A recent Jeff Lemire podcast interview rocks at Ink Studs.
• Peter Kuper's new book Diario de Oaxaca is forthcoming from PM Press. Peter's travel diaries are stunning to behold. (And i'm not just saying that because we published his sublime monograph Speechless.) He's touring quite a bit in support of the book... learn more here.
No doubt Top Shelf's own Jeff Lemire is a rising star of the highest order, and to promote his new, high-profile series from Vertigo, Jeff has launched the Official Sweet Tooth Blog! Check it out!
And if you haven't already (shame on you!) then you MUST read his epic Essex County Collected. This book is The Shit! (My powers of clairvoyance predict Eisner nomination for Best Collection of Previously Published Material.)
September 10, 2009 / More →
Well Chicago was a real hoot this past weekend, as Chris and myself met to attend Jeffrey Brown's wedding reception. It was a treat to meet and enjoy fine conversation, food, and beverages with Jeffrey's parents, brothers, friends, and of course his lovely new wife Jennifer. (I only wish wee lad Oscar could have been there.) Cartoonist Paul Hornschemeier was on hand to give the groom a toast, and it must have been one of the funniest i've ever witnessed. If he weren't such an amazing cartoonist, i'd suggest he do some stand-up comedy.
Also, the streets and billboards were littered with gigantic Surrogates images, and in fact, one could be seen out the window from the bar at the swanky restaurant Avec where Chris i had an amazing dinner. Thanks to Anders Nilsen's food writer wife Heather for the tip!
We got to see lots of our cartoonist friends over the weekend, including Aaron Renier, Jeremy Tinder and his girlie Rachel, Laura Park, and Grant Reynolds. One night these cats and a boatload of friends rented a private karaoke room, wherein in popped my karaoke virginity, feebly attempting renditions of the Stones' "Jumping Jack Flash," and Earth, Wind and Fire's "September." (Which coincidentally was on the very first record album i ever bought with my own dough.) These kids were on FIRE i tell you! Here is Grant (on the right) getting the fuck down.
Finally, Chris and myself spent the entire last day sequestered in the hotel restaurant plotting and planning out the 2010 publishing schedule. This is no easy task i might add. Even in "good" years this takes loads of deliberation as we try to navigate the murky and unstable waters of small press publishing. But in a totally shit economy, even two or three consecutive bad months could potentially cause serious blows to the our company. All in all, i think we'll have some great stuff coming out. More later.
• Shannon O'Leary is working on a new comics anthology called The Big Feminist BUT, and was recently interviewed in Bitch mag!
September 2, 2009 / More →
This Friday, September 4th.
Le Merde, Itokin Park, Tim Biskup, Scrappers, Martin Ontiveros, Uglydolls, and Bwana Spoons
Original paintings, Exclusive GH Toy Release, Customized Figures, Laughter, Sugar, Sweet Titties, The Meaning of Life, and more…
August 31, 2009 / More →
It's been pretty quiet here at the Top Shelf West Coast Headquarters. Intern Jen has departed back to Vermont and the CCS, and well... it's otherwise been pretty quiet. Weird for summertime. Like i'm sittin' in the eye of the hurricane. In any case, here's a few short news items, and some more art from the archives.
• Here's a swell billbaord drawn by Aaron Renier, from back when he still lived in Portland.
• Van Jensen is doing a contest for this Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer book. Check it out!
• Jeff Lemire talks Sweet Tooth at CBR. Oh, and issue #3 of this very same series is featured in the new Diamond Previews. Order it today!
• I'm not sure why this is in my archives, but it's one of my favorite pieces by the superb Martin Ontiveros.
August 22, 2009 / More →
• This Comic Design Competition sounds pretty sweet... the winner's work will be include in a specially commissioned comic alongside works by Dave McKean, Dan Goldman, Aleksander Zograf, Dylan Horrocks, Fredrik Stromberg, Peter Kuper, Coco Wang and Bryan Talbot, amongst others!!
August 18, 2009 / More →
That's when my co-hort Chris flew to Stockholm, Sweden, guests of publisher Galago, to attend the wonderful Small Press Expo. Jeffrey Brown had flown in ahead of us to lecture in southern Sweden at the Comic School of Malmö. To say that we were treated like royalty would be a giant understatement. And Jeffrey Brown is literally revered as a god in the burgeoning comics scene.
Note: Top Shelf now has a Flickr page, where you can browse all of the photos i took on my phone in Stockholm, Sweden, as well as some choice pages from the sketchbook from the trip.
I met lots of new people, as well as people i've known via email only for the first time, like Top Shelf alum Mawil (Beach Safari), who was manning the German publisher Reprodukt table, with Christian Malwald. And also Top Shelf 2.0 contributor Lizz Lunney, in from the UK and sharing a table with Adam Cadwell, Marc Ellerby (art on Jamie Rich's Love The Way You Love) and Anna Petterson. I learned about one of the greatest sweets ever, called Dammsugare, which translates as Vacuum Cleaner, because of its shape. Marzipan and chocolate that explodes on the palette. I drank so much beer i'm amazed i'm alive to tell the tale. The city is absolutely beautiful! (And the girls are too.) Scattered throughout are a few of the photos i snapped on my phone. I was lucky to have a recent intern Jen Vaughn from The Center for Cartoon Studies) scan the sketchbook i bought on the trip and which was subsequently filled by scads of Scandinavian (and German and British and American) cartoonists. (But mostly Swedes.) Again, these are up at the new Top Shelf Flickr account.
And here's Kristiina's right hand man Anders Lundgren (on the right) with Staros. Anders is works with Klubb Super 8. (Specializing in some crazy rare Swedish films!)
I was thrilled to meet Fredrik Strömberg, part of the world cognoscenti in comics. If you dig into the April posts at his website, you'll be treated to a wellspring of material about the show. Fredrik also penned a swell little book i picked up titled Swedish Comics History. It's in English and it's awesome! (In fact, in an ideal world we might have copies of this available here in the U.S. for when we roll out The Swedish Invasion in 2010.)
The Fins were out in force at the show, and though they were as nice as the Swedes, their language is even more difficult to decipher... so while this website seems chock full of information, sadly, i can't transcribe a single word. Still, just browsing this site is an adventure in itself.
Part of the Finnish contingent of the show was cartoonist and publisher Marko Turunen of Daada Books. This guy had some great chops, and his style ran all over the place and it is all good, as witnessed by his chunky comics collection Supernormal.
Sitting next to Marko was super-duper cartoonist extraordinaire Kaisa Leka, who's book On The Outside Looking In i picked up and wow!, this is some incredible comics. (In English!) I'm not quite sure how to get this book, but i officially nominate this in my Top Ten Books of the Year thus far for 2009. It's that smart and that well drawn.
And next to Kaisa was sitting cartoonist and scenester, the ever-jubilant Johanna Rojola and the cutest girl of the festival and exquisite cartoonist, Mari Ahokoivu. These two were great conversation at the big official party.
Also from Optimal Press is a stunning anthology by edited by publisher Ingemar Bengtsson called Allt för Konsten #7.
Our table was set up across the isle from Swedish indy comics stalwart and Galago co-founder Olle Berg. It's kind of a mystery to me why this guy's work isn't more well known over here. His work is as solid as any of most our own underground legends, with hints of Mariscall or Max for the almost cubist stylings.
Another trick anthology, published by Kartago, is the one-writer anthology Allt Jag Rör Vid Försvinner, with stories by Henrik Bromander and illustrated by a plethora of fabulous Swedish cartoonists.
I scored many books from our friends at Galago, including Liv Stromquist's Einsteins Fru, Kolbeinn Karlsson's Trollkungen (which we'll be publishing next year!), and the most recent issue of their eponymous anthology Galago, a sort of Scandinavian cousin to anthology magazine Stripburger, from Slovenia.
MK Reed posted this great report at Publishers Weekly, Lauren Weinstein does as well on her own blog, here is the Reprodukt report (for you German speakers), and Shannon O'Leary filed her own report at Daily Cross Hatch.
August 14, 2009 / More →
It so happens that besides having a world class comics shop Isotope Comics, James Simes' store also hosts the annual Isotope Awards ceremony, the Saturday night of APE. (That's Alternative Press Expo, y'all.) It's a fucking hoot of a party. In fact, for several years running i've been a guest bartender during the first couple hours of the event [usually too hammered to mix a decent cocktail after that] with my beautiful mix-master cohorts Kirsten Baldock and Adrienne Rappaport.
Again, submissions are open, kids!! So send your mini-comics in pronto!
August 11, 2009 / More →
• Eddie Campbell has a dedicated link for all things Alec.
• So-many-cool-new-books/minis/comics/etc-no-time-for-lengthy-reviews: San Diego edition.
- J. Chris' Fat Pack. Wow, what a stellar gift this was, from the enormously talented J. Chris Campbell. Comics, zines, buttons, wooden tokens, fiction, trading cards... you name it, it's here and it is awesome.
- Atom-Bomb Bikini, by Robert Ullman. Rob draws the sexiest girls in comics. Hands-down my favorite, anyway.
- Fluke 20009 Anthology, from Wide Awake Press. (Gifted to me by J. Chris Campbell.) A swell all-around anthology showcasing a lot of talented cartoonists you've probably never heard of. So check it out. Brad McGinty's strip pretty much blows my mind. Superb cartooning. You can read it here.
To learn more watch this, Making of the FLUKE 2009 anthology movie!!
- The Ancient Age, Wide Awake Press. (Also from J. Chris.) Yet another bitchin' anthology well worth your time.
- From "the other" Bud Plant, rare comics dealer i picked up an old education book called Meet The North American Indians (Random House, 1965). Fully illustrated by the great Jack Davis. Unbelievably choice stuff. I only wish i could have purchased the other Davis history book on Teddy Rosevelt and one (can't remember the title) by another favorite, John Severin.
- Scott Morse's Red Window publishing label does very few books in a year, but they are all worth having. And this summer, he follows last year's stunning Ancient Book of Myth and War, with the exquisite Ancient Book of Sex and Science. It's by the same four genius artists who happen to work at Pixar, Scott Morse, Lou Romano, Don Shank, and Nate Wragg. I can not recommend this book highly enough. Get it now because it won't last long.
Every one of these four powerhouse artists deserve their own, feature-length, lush coffee-table art books. Some day?...
- Major haul from John Flesk's super high-end outfit Flesk Publications. With a slow and steady release schedule, Flesk has in short order become one of the more important archival comic strip / artist monograph publishers in this new Golden Age of reprints. This time around: Mark Schultz Various Drawings #3 & 4; Al Williamson's Flash Gordon; Major Thrill's Adventure Book, by Gary Gianni; The Prince Valiant Page (Gianni); and William Stout's Prehistoric Life Murals. This company has nary a single dud in its entire line.
August 4, 2009 / More →
In spite of cries about how we're losing the comics-end of things to the big film studios and the industry is on it's death bed, and the sky is falling, Top Shelf did positively o.k. and i personally had an absolute blast. The Eisner's specifically were truly awesome. I sat at the Top Shelf table with our man Leigh Walton, cartoonist Jeffrey Brown, long time friend and embedded comics journalist Heidi MacDonald, Nate Powell (who was nominated for no less than three awards) and his swell parents. AND, while i was making trips to the hotel bar for new frequent rounds of cocktails, i had a nice chat with industry legend Jim Shooter. AND, after Nate won the most prestigious award in the comics medium (the Eisner for Best Original Graphic Novel) for his book Swallow Me Whole, Nate's mom officially adopted me!! Oh, and for dinner before the ceremony i supped at a restaurant called the Yardhouse, which had 113 beers on draught!! Heeaavven. Post-Eisner's chatting with Denis Kitchen, Tom Devlin, Josh Dysart, Schreck and so many many more. Truly a beautiful evening.
Also had a swell time at Jah Furrie's party, co-hosted (i think) by Devil's Due. Hanging with Staros and Patrick Jodoin, watching Jim Mahfood, Scott Morse and Mike Huddleston rocking out live-art jams while Paul Pope was spinning records. Yeah. Catching up with pals like Henry Chamberlin and Jen Daydreamer, and Douglas (Oni) Sherwood and Kiel Phegley. Then, discovering the secret room back behind the separate downstairs club.
• Moving on, Eddie Campbell (who we really missed in San Diego) recently wrote in with his itinerary for the next few months.
"...this has come about very quickly. Trip to italy for the Lucca festival, at the expense of my publisher there.
"This is nuts, but i've just discovered i've got three books out at once, final volume of Bacchus due in August from Edizioni BD, Black Diamond which has just turned up from Magic Press, and unknown to me, Disease of Language has been out since march or April. Add to that the perennial From Hell...
"... anyway, from there to London where i have a signing at Gosh on Saturday, November 7, and an interview at The ICA in the evening as part of Paul Gravett's Comica Festival."
• And speaking of Eddie Campbell's Alec, we recently printed a fancy little promotional chapbook at Portland indy powerhouse printer Pinball Publishing, and they gave the booklet a showcase on their blog! Check it out. If you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org i'll send ya one.
• Here's a terrific essay by Frank Santoro on the Comics Comics site. Tastey food for thought.
• Inkstuds has a Renee French Playlist (Mix Tape). Tres chic.
• How cool is this ad Grant Reynold's made for the next issue of Diamond Previews, which will be listing his awesome book Comic Diorama.
• Comic soon: My list of San Diego loot. My months-late scene report from Sweden. (Seriously. It's entirely written. I just need to start a Flickr account so i can post the massive amount of photos i took.)
July 17, 2009 / More →
• Gregory Benton sent me the links-of-the-year. Part of a group show at GRNY called Dime Bag 3, Gregory writes, "Each artist was given a 3x3 inch baggie to do art in. I wanted to give a nod to the original notion of the bag's meaning, so I filled the bags with nice green rocks found at the beach & made labels for the flavors."
• So-many-cool-new-books/minis/comics/etc-no-time-for-lengthy-reviews Episode #69
If it appears here, it has my absolute stamp of approval. And i do recommend at least checking this stuff out.
- Comics retailer and convention organizer Dustin Harbin can now officially add "kick-ass cartoonists" to his resume. I just read issue #2 of his mini-comic Dharbin, and Zounds!, this guy has the goods. Kind of like a hillbilly Ivan Brunetti / Steven (Ribs!) Weissman / Charles Schultz love child. His comics can be purchased at DHARBIN.
- One year later, i finally pulled volume 3 of You Ain't No Dancer out of my massive to-read pile. Snuggled inside a righteous wraparound cover by Kazimir Strzepek, this choice anthology took a literal giant leap forward since the first two volumes, quadrupling in size and girth. It's got some misses, but plenty of hits, including standouts by the aforementioned Kazimir, Lucy Knisley, Ken Dahl, Phil McAndrew, Patrick Murphy, Dalton Webb, and Grant Reynolds.
• If you're not reading Emi Town, you should be.
• So i'm reading last weeks Entertainment Weekly, they're talking tv with the Television Must List, and asking celebs what's on their "must list"... Stephen Meyer (Bill on True Blood) called out my awesome friend and writer Willy Vlautin and his novel The Motel Life. That's pretty cool. (And BTW... The Motel Life is fucking outstanding literature, with cover art and illustrations by Nate Beaty. Very highly recommended.)
• Feast on this spiffy trailer for Rich Koslowski's Três Dedos: Um Escândalo Animado. That is, his Spanish translation of Three Fingers, by the publisher Gal Editora.
July 10, 2009 / More →
Welcome to Forest Island. A book about the artwork of Bwana Spoons, published by Top Shelf.
Portland Release Party: July 11, 6-9pm
Book Signing, Pencil Fighting, Fart Knocking!!!
Grass Hut, 811 E. Burnside, Portland, Oregon.
Bwana Spoons has been making art, zines, comics, toys, shoes, t-shirts, cards, and pretty much anything you could imagine for a long long time. He's inspired a lot of us art-makers to take things to the next level. It's been a long time coming, but now he's got a book "Welcome to Forest Island". It's pretty awesome and you should totally have is in your library of eye candy
• Here a fun link to Kevin Cannon on KFAI Radio, featuring snippets of his book Far Arden in radioplay form.
July 2, 2009 / More →
• An art show of new work by my long-time pal Garret Izumi? Count me in! This is tonight here in Portland.
• Meanwhile, Will Dinski is serializing his new work-in-progress "Covered In Confusion" on his website. (And keep your eyes peeled in early 2010 for his Top Shelf debut Finger Prints.) Will's comics are amazing, as well a world class designer and one of the medium's foremost practitioners of exquisite hand-crafted comics and mini-comics.
• Comics historian Craig Yoe has launched a new site dedicated to his hella cool release Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman's Co-Creator Joe Shuster. I can't overstate how delicious this book is.
• Gareth Brookes from Appalling Nonsense recently gifted me a trio of stellar books: The Manly Boys Annual, a very creative, very witty and VERY British two-man anthology; The Banal Pig Landscape Anthology, a truly exquisite collection of comics; and J. Homersham's Musetopia, a series of delightful one-panel gags. Cheers!
• So-many-cool-new-books/minis/comics/etc-no-time-for-lengthy-reviews Episode #44
If it appears here, it has my absolute stamp of approval. And i do recommend at least checking this stuff out.
- Birds in the City: Exploring the Wildlife of Crissy Field. One of comics' finest naturalists Tammy Stellanova delivers another gorgeous comic. In an ideal world kids would be reading her comics in classrooms across the nation.
- Paper Cutter #10. Editor Greg Means of Tugboat Press continues his choice run of the best comics anthology running. This issue features new work by Damien Jay, Jesse Reklaw, and Minty Lewis.
- James Hindle continues to produce little mini-comic gems. His new Come Back might be his best work to date. Terrific chops and storytelling, and as always, a bittersweet and effecting story. I'm a BIG fan of his work, and you should be too! (Note, this image is not from said comic. I just pulled it off his site because it's pretty sweet.)
- Matinée, by the lovely Christine Norrie. This lush little mini combines two great things: Christine's beautiful artwork interpreting classic Hollywood films.
- The Girls' Guide to Rocking, published by Workman. Not comics. It is just what it says it is, with the subtitle, "How to Start a Band and Get Rolling to Rock Stardom." This baby rocks, chock full of useful information, from setting up a practice space, to song structure, to booking and promoting. Very very cool!
- Taddle Creek is an anthology of Toronto-based artists i picked up at TCAF. It's strong all around, but three pieces really rocked, by Michael (we can never see enough of his comics) Cho, J. Bone (set loose with an outstanding digitally-rendered wordless comic, and Fiona (i didn't even know she was still making comics) Smyth. A very very fine comic worth looking for. I'm not sure where it's available, but i'd wager it can be procured at Toronto's epic comics shop The Beguiling.
• And speaking of TCAF, here's a few snaps i took while i was in Toronto.
- Two great portraits by the aforementioned Michael Cho. I think these were originals, painted on a wooden sandwich board for Pages bookstore.
June 30, 2009 / More →
<Alec: The Years Have Pants has left the building. It is en route to the printer as i type this, and fer f*cks sake, if there are only a small handful of must-have books of the year, this is one of them. Some of the most important, intelligent and human autobiographical fiction to ever see print. No less than 640 pages of comics goodness, all resting under sublime covers (softcover AND hardcover) designed by Eric Skillman.
Like i said. Must. Have.
• So-many-cool-new-books/minis/comics/etc-no-time-for-lengthy-reviews Episode #43
If it appears here, it has my absolute stamp of approval. And i do recommend at least checking this stuff out.
- Re-read Rafael Navarro's brilliant Sonambulo: Sleep of the Just, since it came out eight years ago. It has aged exceptionally well. A luchador detective crime noir thriller. Oh, and the hero Sonambulo never sleeps, instead catching everyone else's dreams.
- Finally read Andi Watson's wonderful family story titled Little Star. (Oni Press.) Three years late, but worth the wait. Andi's evolution as a storyteller and as an artist over the years is incredible.
- Cold Heat Special #3, by Frank Santoro and Dash Shaw. Whoa! The stuff mini-comics legends are born of.
- Eyes Move Rapid, by Michael Noonan (Top Shelf neighbor at TCAF). Trippy, cool, beautifully drawn mini-comic.
- Trubble Club III. The gang-bang of comics jams, this awesome mini proves wrong the rule that jam comics by nature suck butt. The art alone is worth the price of admission, but these short little ditties actually deliver.
- Jewish Memoir Goes Pow! Zap! Oy! [On Autobiographical Graphic Novels and Why They are so Jewy], by Miriam Libicki. I've been a real big fan of Miriam's drawn essays chronicling her time spent in the Israeli army, but this is a smart and entertaining departure. Originally made for and featured in The Jewish Graphic Novel: Critical Approaches.
- Monkey Island. Self-published by Matt Rota. Good gods this guy can draw. Seriously, check out his site and feast your eyes.