Last couple of weeks have been busy busy busy for this bartender. My son, his mom, and myself all trekked to Disneyland and, of course, had a mind-blowing time. The only ride that freaked Carter out was Space Mountain. It was pitch black, fast, and jerky, and he said he'd "never ever ride that again." I do suspect though that had we taken him on some (relatively) mellower roller-coasters first, he'd have been o.k. Oh well. One superb lunch was spent with Chris' parents Mr. and Mrs. Staros, his new nephew troy, and his delightfully precocious niece Sophia. As these photos will attest, they got along smashingly, and are pretty damn cute. Carter was seriously smitten.
A very special weekend followed with a friend, and here i am busting my balls to catch up after a great deal of fun.
Many people can't really wrap their brains around this, but at this moment in mid-November, before Thanksgiving, i'm more or less freaking out over a giant workload for books scheduled to come out in March, April, and May. Yikes!
Moving right along:
• T. Edward Bak is coming into his own and has a new website. I really dig this guy and his work. Check it out!
• Christopher Diaz sent me this Flickr video of James Kochalka performing at GRSF.
James Kochalka Super Star, baby!!
• Nice promo for the Brazilian edition of Box Office Poison!
• Matt Kindt makes another ridiculous "free art with purchase" offer!
"From now until December 11th for every 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man book order I will make an original 5x7 ink and water color piece of art and include it for free with your book. So, if you already have a copy, order one for a gift and keep the art for yourself, or order the book for yourself and gift the art to a friend.
"The cut-off for orders will be December 11th so that I can guarantee delivery before December 25th. The quantity is limited to the first 300 orders (there are only 300 copies left).
"Help 3 Story sell out -- get the last of the 1st printing -- and get free art to go with it! Click here to get it."
By the way, i read this on my Disneyland trip and it's outstanding. It's really really really awesome to see Matt kicking ass, and his star on the rise, after paying his dues for a long long time.
Scott Morse turned me onto this, and it's pretty much bending my brain.
This dovetails nicely with these incredible images from NASA's Hubble Telescope.
• Floating World Comics is hosting yet another bitchin' First Thursday event tomorrow, November 5th. This time around: NEGATIVE BULGE – ART & ZINES BY ISLANDS FOLD
"Luke Ramsey came down for the Zine Symposium this past July to represent the Islands Fold art collective that he started in Pender Island, British Columbia. One night after the fest he was hanging out and participated in a drawing session with local artists: Blaise Larmee, Kinoko (from Seattle), Sean Christensen & Theo Ellsworth. Little did they know, the collaborative jam session would result in a zine of ultimate greatness, Negative Bulge! We are very pleased to present original art from the legendary jam session as well as the new zines from Islands fold."
WHO: Islands Fold, Blaise Larmee, Kinoko, Luke Ramsey, Sean Christensen & Theo Ellsworth
WHAT: Negative Bulge zine release + art exhibit
WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 5th, 6-10pm
WHERE: Floating World Comics, 20 NW 5th Ave #101
November 2, 2009 / More →
And here's me. Only one person all night knew who i was (Eddie Riggs, aka JAck Black from new video game Brutal Legend), but that's o.k., it was my best costume in years. Several girls were petting my hair and couldn't believe it wasn't real. And damn, if my scruffly face could manage it for real, i think i'd grow mutton chops in a heartbeat. (Note: that little belly you might see is a "prop." I wish.)
October 30, 2009 / More →
but this short film by Sarah Morean at Daily Cross Hatch is pretty awesome. It shows me making a scratch margarita at the Isotope APE After party last weekend. Yummy...
• Steve Lafler gets the Mixtape Treatment at Inkstuds!
• Dean Haspiel serves up his Top 5 non-comics influences at Graphic NYC. Good stuff all.
• I don't think Jeremy Eaton sleeps. Or else he's created a clone. He now has a new blog of, as he says "pop-infused psycho-babble," called Popular Madness.
"Popular Madness, appearing every Monday through Friday, will utilize a vast collection of old comic book panels, acting as springboards for my stream-of-consciousness contemplations, ruminations and cultural criticism – all spiked liberally with touchstones from our shared popular culture."
• My neighbor and friend Vanessa Veselka (who also has a cameo in my film Road To Insignificance) is serializing her novel Zazen on the Arthur Magazine website.
From Jay Babcock:
The Story: It’s the very near-future, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest—or a neighborhood near you. 27-year-old Della Mylinek has suffered some kind of breakdown after failing to stop the construction of a local Wal-Mart. In an attempt to regain psychological, financial and emotional stability, she’s moved in with her brother and his pregnant wife and taken a job waiting tables at a vegan restaurant. But her anger remains, and one thing leads to another…
“Zazen” Keywords: geology, veganism, the apocalypse, urban planning, yoga, sex parties, bombs, anarchism, aging new-left revolutionaries, strip malls, paleontology, dark hippies, transcendentalism, lavender hair dye.
The Author: Vanessa Veselka is a writer and musician living in Portland, Oregon. She has been, at various times, a teenage runaway, a sex-worker, a union organizer, a student of paleontology, an expatriate, an independent record label owner, a train-hopper, a waitress and a mother. Her work has appeared in Bust, Bitch, Maxmum Rock ’n’ Roll, Yeti Magazine and Tin House. Zazen is her first novel.
October 23, 2009 / More →
Super amounts of fun were had, in spite of a low turnout.
Here's a swell Flickr set of the APE Aftermath Party at Isotope. Will Dinski won the award for Best Mini with his excellent, Covered in Confusion.
• Speaking of APE, it was a pleasure (as always) to speak with the dynamic duo of Mark Todd and Esther Pearl Watson. I finally picked up Esther's massive Unloveable book. I'd previously only read a handful of the original mini-comics. In any case, the pair will each have a piece in a galley event tomorrow night: True Self, a group exhibition at Jonathan Levine Gallery in NY this Saturday, October 24th.
• Bill Kelter has a new piece up on the Veeps Blog!!
• Dodgem Logic, Alan Moore's new underground newspaper, sounds pretty rad. Here's an excellent short interview with Alan on the subject and other items at Mustard Magazine.
Kristi Turnquist profiles Ben Saunders and his Superhero exhibit at Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at my alma mater University of Oregon.
"Faster than a Speeding Bullet: The Art of the Superhero" runs through January 3rd.
• Jesse Reklaw's band Fun Yeti is playing here in Portland on Saturday, with:
The Tagalongs & the Punk Rock Collective
Tonic Lounge, 3100 NE Sandy Blvd.
Rock starts around 9pm, $5, 21 and over.
• Sweet! Mike Dawson and Chris Radtke's hilariously funny comic series Gabagool! is now entirely available online... for free! This shit is awesome. If Judd Apatow fucked Kevin Smith and their love-child made comics, this is what they would be like.
• Hells yeah... this might be the most anticipated comic i've been jonesin' for in the last decade. Now with a funky YouTube trailer! Afrodisiac In The House!
• And yet another ingenious short film, Principal Skeleton, drops from Graham Annable. Links to his other macabre short films abound. Every one of them a little gem
• Dame Darcy has some wicked cool dolls like this for sale online.
• Food for thought, from the great Greg Palast. On Health Care.
October 12, 2009 / More →
Top Shelfers Nate Powell, Grant Reynolds, and Jeremy Tinder will be on hand. Working the booth will be Leigh Walton and myself. And once again i'll be mixing cocktails at the Isotope Comics Lounge for APE Aftermath Party on Saturday night. I'm also one of the judges for the Seventh Annual Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics.
• Also at APE, i would highly recommend checking out the great R. Sikoryak's slideshow in support of the recently release Masterpiece Comics, from D&Q. And this ain't hyperbole, folks... the book is amazing.
• Yet another APE attendee this year, Scott Campbell sent out his newsletter, and as per usual, the guy blows my mind. He'll be exhibiting with Double Fine Comics. Plus, Gallery Nucleus has released limited edition prints of the Ninja House from his HOME SLICE show back in the earlier part of this year.
And finally, Mr. Campbell let it be known to me — a lifelong video-game non-layer, because of addictive personality traits — the release of THE video game which i fully intend to buy. Literally my first ever. Brutal Legend, with Jack Black, on which Scott has been working for five years, doing concept and production designs. Be still my beating metal-head heart.
• Here is Jeffrey Brown's stellar Mixtape [with custom art] at Ink Studs.
• And speaking of ink-studs, Matt Rota has a new blog. This kid can flat out draw!! Here is a piece he did for the New York Times, on the Anniversary of the Tet Offensive.
• Go Keith, go! Keith Olbermann's hour-long Special Comment on Health Care is must-see t.v. (Or streaming internet.)
October 3, 2009 / More →
First off was our trip to the red carpet outside El Capitan in Hollywood for the Surrogates premier. This was one of the most excellent nights of my entire life. Something i'll never forget. Also had a long overdue conversation with Top Shelf friend Louise Nemschoff. The premier was last Thursday night, and i had to wake up at 5:15 the next morning to get back home to Portland, where my collaborators (Mike Lay, Bill Kelter and Wayne Shellabarger) and myself spent three days doing pick-up shots for our own film, Road to Insignificance. This mockumentary is based on the actual book by Bill and Wayne, Veeps: Profiles in Insignificance. We also did some sound-recording, which was blast. And one of the voices was none less than Cherry Poppin' Daddies frontman Steve Perry! Cool.
(I will post my iPhone pics to our Flickr page asap.)
• Jeff Lemire is interviewed by our good friend Andrea Warner for Vancouver B.C.s Westender. And make sure to check out Jeff's blog where Blair Butler gives the collected Essex County serious props on an embedded Attack of the Show link.
Jeff is an invited guest at next weekend's Wordstock Literary Festival here in Portland, and will also have a signing at Floating World Comics Friday, the 9th, at 6:00 p.m.
WHO: Jeff Lemire
WHAT: Artist reception and book signing
WHEN: Friday, Oct. 9th, 6-8pm
WHERE: Floating World Comics, 20 NW 5th Ave #101
• Here's a pic of Jeffrey Brown and Noah Van Sciver at SPX. I missed the show this year for the first time since i started going in 1996 (except for the canceled 2001 show, of course)... For a slew of picture links check out the SPX Collected Memory section at The Comics Reporter. And speaking of Jeffrey, check out his blog, where he has a screen-grab of a recent episode of Heroes, featuring no less than his first graphic novel, Clumsy!!!
• Matt Kindt has updated his blog and has all manner of cool shit available, including this bitchin' Giant Man mini-comic Spy Capsule. Sweet! Click on the "shop" link, and it's all yours for a mere six bones.
• Grant Reynolds and Jeremy Tinder are doing a show the weekend of APE at Giant Robot San Francisco, called CHIP BEEF, CHIPPED TOOTH. Ha! Grant will be on hand pimping his new Top Shelf comic called Comic Diorama.
Chip Beef, Chipped Tooth
Drawings and Painting by Jeremy Tinder and Grant Reynolds
622 Shrader St, San Francisco, CA 94117
6:30 PM, October 17
• Finally, here's what i'll be checking our from this month's Diamond Previews, for books scheduled to ship in a few months. (Which, i should add, on page 292 lists our new Jeffrey Brown documentary dvd Drawing Between the Lines, and James Kochalka's new cd James Kochalka Superstar: Digital Elf.
At the very very top of my wish list here is Brian Maruca and Jim Rugg's Afrodisiac HC. Much of this material has been sporadically published here and there. This is as close to a comic book equivalent as you can get to circa 1970s sexploitation / blacksploitation filmmaking. From AdHouse Books, i can pretty much guarantee this book will be in my short-list of favorite books from 2009. If you go NOW, AdHouse has a free PDF preview download, so check it out.
From Marvel Comics:
- Thor: Tales of Asgard, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. (I think i might be one of a mere handful who actually loved the modern coloring when i was looking at the floppies on the rack.)
From Viz Media:
- Vagabond (VizBig Edition) Volume 6, by Takehiko Inoue. These fat collections are getting me to pick up manga series' i wasn't about to buy in tiny and too-numerous editions before.
From Simon & Schuster:
- Mercury, by Hope Larson. I'll be honest, i much preferred her magic realism stuff with AdHouse (Salamander Dreams) and Oni (Gray Horses) way more than her more recent book Chiggers, but then again, i don't think i was the target audience for that book. Hopefully Mercury will see a return to form, and that she'll be allowed to utilize her incredible skills.
- The Complete Milt Gross, edited by Craig Yoe. I can say with utter conviction that if Craig Yoe is involved, it will be worth checking out. And having read an older edition of Gross' He Done Her Wrong i'm sure to pick this up.
- Winterworld, by Chuck Dixon and Jorge Zaffino. Again, to be frank, i think there's waaaaay too much lame material (especially from the 80s) being dug up for repackaging and reprinting in an already glutted industry, but i've always wanted to read this. Zaffino is a bitchin' artist, way underrated in North America.
From Drawn & Quarterly:
- The John Stanley Library: Thirteen Going On Eighteen. D&Q — along with Fantagraphics, Sunday Press, and iDW among others— has been releasing some long lost gems these last few years. I can't wait to put my hands on this!
From DC Comics:
- Preacher Book 2 HC, by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. Ennis' masterpiece. 'Nuff said.
- The Creeper, by Steve Ditko. Oh shit!! FINALLY (thanks in no small part to Blake Bell's excellent Strange and Stranger Ditko biography) we're seeing a resurgence of attention for Ditko on par with Kirby. This is some crazy mad work, folks.
From Dark Horse:
- Jet Scott, by Sheldon Stark and Jerry Robinson. Unfortunately Dark Horse has been a major disappointment with their treatment of archival materials. With the exception of their Harvey TPBs, Kubert's Tarzan, and the excellent Warren HCs, they seem to have decided that cheap and easy is their method of operation, yet they still charge a standard 50 bucks a pop for some of this. I don't mean too sound harsh, but their production on the Russ Manning Magnus Robot Fighter was atrocious. (I'd even sold some vintage back issues of these glorious comics, only to be horrified when the first "deluxe" HC rolled out.) Needless to say, with archival materials and Dark Horse, i play the wait-and-see game. Stay tuned, true believers.
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!