At the Onion website. Oh. My. God. Jimmy Carter on FIRE!!
•Â Steve Lafler has posted a fun piece called "Is Print Dead, or Does it Just Smell Funny?" on his blog. It features myself, Jesse Recklaw, and Dylan Williams among others. The piece is slated to run in the multi cultural arts/music mag out of Chicago, ALARM.
• From the desk of Eric Reynolds:
"Don't miss “REBEL VISIONS: The Underground Comix Revolution” opening this Saturday, January 12 from 11:30 to 8:00 PM at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery in Seattle. This colorful art show will complement “R. Crumb’s Underground” exhibition opening January 26 at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle.
"Organized by comix historian, author and archivist Patrick Rosenkranz, in association with Fantagraphics resident curator Larry Reid, “REBEL VISIONS” features original artwork, artifacts and relix from masters of the underground era. Highlights include a previously unseen original drawing by Rick Griffin, recently discovered by L. A. collector Greg Escalante; rarely viewed original art by feral genius S. Clay Wilson; and locally created original artwork by the legendary Greg Irons, who followed his underground work with a prolific career as a tattoo artist working at the storied Seattle Tattoo Emporium prior to his untimely death in 1984."
For more info (store locations, etc.), head to the Fantagraphics website.
January 8, 2008 / More →
Yeah, The Spurg is back, and Comics Reporter is online again!! I've really missed this blog … easily a favorite, and my only "must-read daily" comics website. Lot's of stuff to catch up on, including great interviews with cartoonist Frank Santoro, Eric (Fantagraphics) Reynolds, Chris (AdHouse) Pitzer, Karen (Vertigo) Berger, and pop-culture writer and bon vivant Sean T. Collins.
• Jeff Lemire's wife Lesley Anne made this fabulous "action figure" of his character Lester, from the graphic novel Tales from the Farm. Killer!
• Some neat art by web comix contributor Lode Devroe.
• Dash Shaw's new strip is now being serialized on a weekly schedule on his website. Dash is one of the most engaging cartoonists to come around the pike in a long while, and certainly one of the few who challenges the formal limits of the medium.
"Here's a provocative Jimmy Olsen page that I've wrestled with for years. Like a Marcel Duchamp, an 11 minute Bob Dylan song, or a comon dollar bill, it's "right there" on the surface but impossible to reduce to one singular meaning. The mystic power of ancient rituals and symbols collide with crass mass produced images working in tandem solely to bail Jimmy out of a minor back-alley scrape with cheap, maize-phobic hoods. Product placement? Did the writer have a giant bowl of canned corn at 2am, later waking on the floor near his bed with terrifying rarebit-like visions of fantastic terror? Truly revolutionary in its pop-culture vest, any serious analysis dead-ended by a maddeningly deflective Warhol-like non-response in the Jimmy's Pen-Pals page."
• Bill's Kelter's new VEEPS website/blog kicks ass! (Ostensibly created to promote Bill and Wayne's upcoming masterpiece VEEPS, this blogs plans to be an evolving commentary on all things political that catch their fancy.)
• How much does Nate Duke, a fan working right now at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica as a power plant operator, supplying power for the 1000+ people there (and a part of the National Science Foundation), love Top Shelf? Check it out. We're representing on all seven continents now!! (Thanks to Chris Staros for the info... Chris' first contribution to the Top Shelf blog!!)
January 1, 2008 / More →
December 26, 2007 / More →
I have to say, i really do love Christmas. It must have been my Mom who gave me the bug, but for a pagan/agnostic guy like myself, there's an almost magical something that hangs in the air, which no other Holiday does for me.
Here in Portland we had flurries of snow for a few hours this afternoon, but alas, none of it stuck to the ground. Hope all of you readers out there are enjoying this festive day.
• January is Top Shelf Month at the Comic Book Bin! This is great news. So bookmark this page and head back there soon. They're also having some Top Shelf fun at their Facebook page. (Something this old man has never seen.)
• I love the back-matter in Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' brilliant series Criminal. (Along with Walking Dead, the ONLY comics i buy knowing that i'll also pick up the trade paperback later on down the road.)
I haven't even read this second arch of the series yet, but i've devoured the stuff in the back, and on Ed's recommendation i picked up and watched Scott Frank's superb neo-noir, psychological thriller / bank-heist flick called The Lookout.
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in the follow-up film to his breakout roll in Brick, The Lookout hits all the right notes. It's criminal (no pun intended) that this film didn't make more of a splash upon its release. If you're looking for slam-bang action, stay away; but if you like excellent acting, taught scripts, and an engaging crime story, be advised to check this out. A great review can be read here at Dvd Talk.
• Finally, here is a new Christmas e-card from Gregory Benton, and the last of my archival Christmas jpegs from years past.
(Not exactly sure, but this looks like Joseph Lambert)
December 22, 2007 / More →
ITEM! It's not too often i run straight press releases, but when the event warrants i've got no problem at all doing so. This one, for my great friend Bwana Spoons, one of the world's nicest guys, and most amazing creative minds.
Bwana Spoons Art Show at Giant Robot New York
Spoons is a Portland-based artist whose freewheeling style was developed under the influence of underground comics, '60s rock posters, and Japanese rubber monster movies. Starting out with stapled-and-folded zines like My Friend the Micronaut and Ain't Nothing Like Fuckin' Moonshine in the early '90s, Spoons has become a regular in the Northwest street art and indie music scene. Endangered animals caught in mid-thought, kung-fu wizards with gravity-defying eyebrows, and swirling psychedelic backgrounds are only some of the elements found in the well-composed anarchy of his paintings and sculpture. He is also involved in the Grass Hut art collective and gallery.
Although the show is called “How to Dig a Hole,” the new paintings, illustrations, and sculptures by Spoons actually address how to get out of one. "What do I fill it with?” he asks. “Blood, guts, tears, dirt, love, and paint.”
Giant Robot has been promoting new art and artists since 1994, first with a magazine and then in galleries. The publication celebrated its 50th issue in 2007 with an art show at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. Currently it presents art shows on a monthly basis in its L.A., San Francisco, and New York City locations.
A reception for Spoons will be held from 6:30 to 10:00 on Saturday, January 12. For more information about the artist, GRNY, or Giant Robot magazine, please contact:
Giant Robot Owner/Publisher
•Â Also, here's some pics from a few months back. Brendan Wright, who was interning at the time, helped package up this promotion for Renee French's work. This is all a learning process for us (even ten years in), but this package did indeed generate some good response.
December 20, 2007 / More →
The kid LOVES this movie right now. In fact, he loves all the Christmas movies he's seen thus far. Ah, Christmas.
•Â Van Jensen declares Jeff Lemire Best Artist of 2007 at Graphic Fiction!
There's also a nod that Top Shelf (blush blush) is Publisher of the Year! And i think Van said that Super Spy by Matt Kindt gets the nod for Graphic Novel of the Year! Whoo hoo!
• Andy Runton is featured over at Broken Frontier.
• Beautiful new Christmas jpeg from Dino Haspiel.
• And one from the Center for Cartoon Studies, drawn by Dane Martin.
• Tom Spurgeon interviews the ever-affable Tom Devlin at Comics Reporter.
December 17, 2007 / More →
• Marc Mason has posted a fun Year-In-Review over at The Comics Waiting Room.
• Shawn Crystal drew one of the most bitchin' Fourth World pieces i've EVER seen. (For my Kirby's Fourth World sketchbook, natch.)
DC Comics … what is wrong with you? Current DCU Infinite/Countdown/52 uber-continuity is convoluted and lame. How about teaming up Shawn here with, oh... Grant Morrison or Warren Ellis on some Fourth World action. Big idea guys. Mark Millar (on a good day) or possibly even Peter Milligan. Ditch the frikkin' angst, and make some fun comics again.
Oh well, a fanboy can dream.
• Another gorgeous Holiday card in my in-box, from Michael Golden and Renee Witterstaetter. Golden has been my absolute favorite comics artist forever, beating even (Gasp!) Byrne in his prime. It's boss to see him back in the mix. You can read a fabulous interview with Michael and Renee, by the late great Daniel Robert Epstein, archived at Newsarama.
• Finally, some more holiday art from my own archives.
December 13, 2007 / More →
How bat-shit nutty is THIS... Craig Thompson nominated for a Grammy Award!!
• Diana Schutz has me on her comp list, for which i'll owe her my second-born child. (Except that, i'll never have a second child...)
Anyway, this time i received the magnificent coffee table tome, The Art of Matt Wagner's Grendel.
I really can't think of an icon in the vast world of creator-owned characters, to have received such an impressive, deluxe treatment. Big ups to Matt, Diana, and designer Steve Birch on this expansive treasure trove.
Between this, the Hellboy book (edited by Scott Allie), the Eisner Sketchbook (edited by Diana) and the Art of Bone (also edited by Diana), The Horse has produced arguably the most impressive line of creator-focused art books in the industry.
• RELEASE PARTY FOR WORLD WAR 3 ILLUSTRATED # 38: FACTS ON THE GROUND’ ISSUE
Featuring multi-media presentations by: FLY, SETH TOBOCMAN, MAC McGILL, PETER KUPER, CHRISTOPHER CARDINALE.. NYC Cyclists Memorials, REBECCA MIGDAL, PENNY ALLEN
• John Porcellino continues to produce one of the longest running series in the world of alternative comics, with King-Cat #68. This comic is a pure artistic bravura performance. A diamond in the rough. A nugget of comics goodness that is perfectly priced as a stocking stuffer. Hint, hint. (Especially good for indoctrinating new comics readers into the fold.)
If you enjoy life's simple pleasures, and love naturalist writing or riveting first-person storytelling, then King-Cat is for you. John's delicate line and seemingly simplistic stylings, hide a deeply complex connection to the rhythms of life, nature, and the human condition.
There's more heart in John's hand-lettered introduction to this 68th issue, than in 98% of the naval-gazing auto-bio comics being cranked out in any given year. Browse his catalog and support this modern master.
John Porcellino is an American original, and his importance to the medium of comics is giant.
• If anyone ever questioned whether there were any great mainstream comics coming out anymore, they need look no further than Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's in-your-face The Ultimates, the second oversized volume of which was released yesterday. Many people complain that this comic has strayed to far from the charming and harmless kiddie fare of yesteryear. That's it's too cynical and mean. Well in case you haven't noticed, the world is a cesspool right now, what with the polar ice-caps about to melt away, genocide, wars, and least but not least, the most corrupt administration the country has ever known.
I LOVED the first volume of this, and can't wait to dive into the finale. Moreover, Marvel is the undisputed KING of great hardcover treatments, chock full of extras and bonus goodies. Besides the requisite items like the covers from the floppies, there's a creator commentary, scripts, pencil art, how-to cover designs, and so much more. I'll be the first to admit that this is decidedly NOT for little kids, but if you have a friend who disses comics, but loves genre action films, James Bond, or action movies with lots of explosions, this will make them a believer. Seriously.
(To see a REALLY huge version of this, click HERE.)
• Why would i call this the most corrupt administration in American history. Well, i think Lloyd Dangle, creator of the smash-hit cartoon Troubletown, sums it up nicely.
• James Kochalka has revamped the American Elf website, and now all the archives are free! From James' press release:
"In 1998 I began drawing a daily diary comic strip. (Every day I draw a little strip about something that happened to me that day.) In 2002 I began serializing the diary on my website, AmericanElf.com. On the website, only the most recent strip was available for free and to read the archives you had to subscribe for $1.95 a month. This did pretty well for me, bringing in about $600 a month, net. However... over the years I noticed my readership dropping lower and lower, even as the strip won industry award after industry award. (Three Ignatz awards and a Harvey award). My subscription base remained about the same, but less and less people were reading the strip, even as it became more critically acclaimed.
"I figure this was because a subscription based comic is a bit of an oddity in internet-land. Most web comics are free. Most people who came to my site were probably dumbfounded by the fact that I was asking for money to read the archives. Not to mention that my strip actually sort of sucks in small doses. It's not until you read many strips in a row that you start to understand how good it really is. But unless you were already a subscriber you couldn't read more than one strip at a time. So potential new readers who came to the site by word of mouth, or who followed links, probably turned away rather quickly.
"In the last few months, as the birth of our second child approached, I began to grow more and more restless about the status quo of my website. I didn't really want to give up the subscription money... as little as it is, every little bit helps when you're trying to scrape together a living as an indy cult cartoonist. But I desperately wanted more readers! So with the help of some of my readers and some of my webcomics friends I came up with a plan. Make the archives free, but offer bonus content for subscribers.
"And now here's the even better news. On Thanksgiving, our second son, Oliver Jonco Kochalka was born. Exactly two weeks later on the evening of Thursday, Dec 6, we launched the redesign of American Elf. The news of the change spread. My readership went from about 270 unique users on Wednesday... to about 200,000 or so on Friday. Page views were well in excess of 700,000!
"Life is good! A beautiful crazy baby, and people are actually reading my strip."
• Finally, here are some email holiday attachments i've received in years past:
Two from Ulf K.
One from Gregory Benton
One from Chris Watson
(I'll put some more up next time.)
December 6, 2007 / More →
Fans of Jeffrey Brown, and his bitchin' Incredible Change-Bots really must see this, the official Fan Club swag Jeffrey Brown is sending out for a mere $20. An exclusive mini-comic; a laminated Club Member Card; and a piece of original art, of your favorite Change-Bot.
• I just finally watched Chris Brandt's new comics documentary, Independents: A Guide for the Creative Spirit. Loved it! There's a plethora of familiar faces in there, and together paint an interesting and fun … if by no means complete … picture of the state of indie comics, and their collective history. Good stuff.
My only quibble with it is that it seems much more catered to an insider, and not so much something that a non-initiate would be able to watch, and then grok on the medium and the industry. I think this is more likely than not by design; i just wish there were more docs out there that could work as ambassadors for this still young medium, and bring more new readers into the fold.
Still, kudos Chris! Nice work.
• Here is a TRULY superb interview with Brian Wood, conducted by Tom Spurgeon at the Comics Reporter.
• Master letterer and designer Todd Klein has published a spiffy print titled Alphabets of Desire; a poem by Alan Moore and lettered by Todd. Looks beautiful.
• The EC sets have been sold. The first person to respond, a benefactor who swooped in and bought the whole lot. Thanks, you know who. As it happens a great friend as well, so not only do i find comfort in their new home, but i can revisit them when i visit my friend. Sweet.
December 1, 2007 / More →
Meanwhile, life happens. You know what i mean? I remember almost ten years ago, the day that my Dad died, and all i could think was,"Stop the world!! Doesn't everyone see what just happened?!!!" But the world rambled on, not even a bump in the road.
Here and now, besides the loss of a childhood hero in Evel Knievel, events have transpired that have turned my own personal life entirely upside-down. My apologies for the long long delay. Details are irrelevant really, but let's just say that my monthly household income is now greatly reduced, while the bills keep piling on.
I'm in a financial bind because of my current situation, and so i'm going to sell many of my Russ Cochran, oversized, b&w EC sets. I've done some research online as for pricing, and have priced the books based on the overall average of each set for sale. I'd prefer to receive payment in the form of a check. All prices will include shipping. Contact me at email@example.com if anyone has any interest.
If PayPal payment is preferred, i'll have you send funds to firstname.lastname@example.org. But please contact me first to confirm i still have the set on hand. All sets are in very good / excellent condition.
Two-Fisted Tales: $300.
Frontline Combat: $375.
Haunt of Fear: $600.
Shock Suspenstories: $225.
Vault of Horror: (I can't find this ANYWHERE online, so i'm pricing it as $600.)
Weird Science: $200.
Tales From The Crypt: $150.
• Wordstock, the annual Portland book fair, was a few weeks ago. While it doesn't generate the same sort of ducats that a traditional comics show does, the intangible benefits make it worth our while to attend. Leigh manned the table most of the time, and we got to schmooze and meet lots of people outside of the world of comics. The importance of this sort of outreach is hugely important, as the very business models of selling graphic novels is morphing before our very eyes.
I picked up some cool swag at the show...
My Hunger for Venison by Gary Baseman, published by Baby Tattoo Books. I've LONG been a fan of Baseman's work, but to be honest, for the last several years he's been fairly redundant. This book landed in my hands courtesy of Bob at Baby Tattoo, and wow! What a left turn, and one i highly recommend.
I had some swell neighbors at the festival. Right across the isle was Eric Reynolds of world-renowned Fantagraphics. As was Portland based publisher Hawthorne Books, and talking with Rhonda Hughes was great fun. Next door was Matt Love of Nestucca Spit Press, who published the fabulous basketball book Red Hot and Rollin', about the 1976-77 Championship Season of the Portland Trailblazers. I was ten or eleven when the Blazers won the championship, and man what a wild ride that was. I can't wait to dive into this book.
McSweeney's had a presence at the show as well, and as i'm occasionally known to do, i picked up a book SOLEY because it had an incredibly designed cover. (Well, and it IS a McSweeney's book, after all.) In this case, the debut novel Bowl of Cherries, by Millard Kaufman.
• Brett Weldele continues to produce mind-blowingly cool posters for the annual Portland-based Grindhouse Filmfest. Here's his newest from the fest a couple weeks ago, plus another look at posters he's done in years past. (Congrats too to Brett, for the BIG NEWS about the Surrogate movie news!)
• Matt Kindt … who's book Super Spy has just been declared Indie Book of the Year by Wizard magazine … has a bitchin' new Flash comic up online.
• Here's a swell new drawing by Aleksander Zograf for an Italian glam-rocker.
• Max Estes has a new website. This cat sure can draw!
• Been listening to some old records of mine, what with all the change going on around here, reflecting, and all that sort of stuff. Popped in a record i wasn't sure held the stood of time, All Shook Up, by Cheap trick. Released in 1980 (when i was a sophomore in high school) and produced by the legendary Beatles producer George Martin, not only does this stand up, it rocks better and harder than most of the crap the kids call rock & roll today. Fuckin' A!
• Finally, in honor of the great one, check out this killer YouTube clip my pal Gregor Benton sent to me this morning, and enjoy this eulogy my friend Wayne Shellabarger wrote:
Today we mourn a great American hero, hell, just a great American. Evel Knievel, may your sky-cycle carry you safe and true, high over those pearly gates and St. Peter and his big golden book where your name may or may not appear. "Shoulda built the fence higher, St. Peter motherfucker!" There's a brand new skeleton and a fresh liver waiting for you there, where you'll amaze the angels as you jump over all the dead rock stars jammin' with Jimi Hendrix. I can't wait for all the specials and tributes. Maybe a biopic starring Matthew McConaghey! Until then i'll settle for my $4.98 DVD starring George Hamilton as Evel and my treasured DVD of Evel's greatest jumps.
• Thanks for listen, people. I'm back now, and updates will be frequent.
Alex Robinson has a short interview at Spike.
• Another killer couple a shows at Floating World Comics.
FLOATING WORLD COMICS
20 NW 5TH AVE #101
"A Day of the Dead art celebration with local artist Farel Dalrymple and Seattle artist Kazimir Strzepek. Farel made a big splash in the indy comics scene with his debut Pop Gun War and his acclaimed Meathaus anthologies. Last month he made his Marvel comics debut with Omega the Unknown written by novelist Jonthan Lethem. Kazimir is a relative newcomer to the indy comics world, but his debut The Mourning Star won an Ignatz award for Outstanding Series!"
Then, on December 6:
SPACENIGHT - ROM TRIBUTE SHOW
A Collection Of Digital Prints & Original Art To Benefit Bill Mantlo
Floating World proprietor Jason Leivian writes:
"The first comic I ever read was ROM Spaceknight, a silver cyborg fighting evil monsters throughout the universe. I collected every issue until the series was cancelled at #75 (when I asked the comic clerk why it was cancelled he kindly replied, 'Well, they just ran out of stories to tell.'). I didn’t know it at the time, but the artist of that first issue was Steve Ditko, who would later become one of my all time favorites.
"Years later I learned that all of these incredible stories were written by one man, Bill Mantlo. At the same time I learned that he had been injured in a terrible hit and run accident in 1992. Due to the severe injuries, Bill currently resides in a Brain Injury Rehabilitation Nursing Home, and will probably do so for the rest of his life.
"This show will serve as a fundraiser and celebration of the stories Bill has given us. All of the artwork and more will be compiled in a tribute comic next year that will be sold as a non-profitbenefit book for Bill’s brother/caregiver, Mike Mantlo, to provide funding to enable Bill to enjoy somewhat of a quality of life."
• Wow. I love it when one of our books gets the "I hate this book so much i'm going to devote three hours of my life and 20,000 words dissecting it" treatment. Fer fuck's sake, you could draw an entire mini-comic in the amount of time it took to write this vitriolic review. Someone named "Abhay" (does this guy/girl freelance for the Comics Journal?) over at The Savage Critic takes Jeremy Tinder's Cry Yourself To Sleep to task and all i can say is, i think someone has some Mommy/Daddy issues. I mean, i'm all for a good critical drubbing, provided it's actually, well, you know... critically minded. I almost never point out negative reviews of our books, but this is actually laughably funny. I think someone here needs to find a good therapist.
• He's a video blog featuring an interview with Jeffrey Brown at Bif! Bam! Pow! Wow!.
• More short video interviews over at Express, courtesy of Scott Rosenberg and Christopher Porter.
• Mike Bonanno was a guest of my pal Doug from Oni at my pre-Stumptown cocktail party, and he just sent me this great Flickr set of pics he took.
My god, how cute is my kid. That's him giving "respect knuckles." Chuck BB in the background. (Carter's favorite album right now, by the way, is Van Halen 1!! You should hear him sing "Jamie's Cryin'.")
• Jesse Reklaw recently threw down with an amazing, dense mini-comic called Bluefuzz, and i'm here to tell you, this is some of Jesse's best work to date. The titular hero Bluefuzz's existential journey in 48 pages is a freewheeling beautiful ride. Featuring a small handful of full-color painted pages too.
I picked this up at Stumptown from the Sparkplug table. Sadly, i can't find any info online about this fine little comic.
• Tom Spurgeon interviews my old buddy, CBLDF Director Charles Brownstein at The Comics Reporter.
• JP Coovert gave me his new comic Adrift at SPX, and it's wonderful. My favorite book of his ever. Maybe autobiographical, maybe not; the narrative uses oceanic creature metaphors to beautiful effect. Well done, JP! It's not available yet at One Percent Press, but i presume it will be soon, and worth tracking down.
• One of my scores from TCAF in August is a mini-comics sketchbook by one Michael Cho, called Papercut. I'd never heard of this guy before nor had i seen his work, but mark my words people, we ALL will sooner than later. This guy is an AMAZING illustrator and cartoonist. (He drew THE most kick-ass Iron Man in my Avengers/Kirby's 4th World Sketchbook.) Check out his website and be prepared for some luscious art.
• Steve Lafler has a new online comic, called Diva Funnies. Yay!
SPX 2007 is come and gone now and it was fun fun fun. I've been attending this show since 1996, when David Lasky and myself were the only attendees from the West Coast. There are plenty of anecdotes about how awesome it was in the olden days, when Chris Oarr buried a pig in his backyard and we drunkenly swung at a pinata (this is the same house party at which i met for the first time folks like Greg Bennett of Big Planet Comics, Jeff Smith, and Shannon Wheeler), then into the years where attendance rose and Sunday became a giant picnic. When the show relocated last year i was one of those who bemoaned the lack of Sunday in the September sun... time to kick back reflect with ones peers and what have you. Well now that the show has moved to October, the weather isn't as nice, and besides which, the new hotel is so vast and comfortable, that i didn't really miss the picnic so much. Life is all about change, yes?
Check out this fun little SPX interview with Chris Staros by Scott Rosenberg and Christopher Porter at Read Express.
• Lots of stuff read from the show while traveling back home. This is only a smattering. I also have some photos i took, but i still need to load them.
• While i don't think there was a single "buzz book" that stood out from the crowd, i was given a handful of minis by a creator i might dub the "buzz cartoonist" of the show, at least for me since i'm not familiar with his work. I don't recall meeting him, but i ended up with a handful of mini-comics by self-publisher Joseph Lambert. His art and stories are wide-ranging in style, but man can this guy draw! My favorite was hands down a mini called Turtle Keep it Real. The other books were Thin Bear Loves His Brother and The Bait & Switch. Wonderful stuff.
• Our own Rob Venditti continues to surprise with a prose chapbook titled Dads, also published by Wide Awake Press. This is a short and delightfully fictional account about growing up and the differences between a "real" dad and a "step-dad." Insightful and extremely well written. Visit the Wide Awake Press website and buy this now, please.
• The anthology Eats is the third and final entry from Wide Awake Press. It's not as good as their previous anthology 666, but it has a couple nuggets of greatness making it fully worth your while. With an (obvious) food theme, Ben Towle's Hush Puppies story was terrific. Rob Ullman privided a nifty story called "Crustacean Frustration" which, besides being a heartwarming tale of forgiveness and redemption, is a real fun cartoony departure from his more well-known proclivity towards drawing smoking hot young women (see below). Big ups to J. Chris Campbell. (Who, by the way received the award for seeming even as remotely drunk as i was on Friday night. Good god, i suffered a two-day hangover after that bender.)
• After gearing many good things i finally kicked down some cash at the CCS booth for Ken Dahl's two issue of his series called Monsters, a (loosely?) autobiographical story about contracting herpes. It doesn't sound like it could possibly be one of my favorite books of the year, just from this description, but it's fucking amazing. I'm hooked... can't wait for the next issue! I couldn't find a website for him, but he has a section at I Know Joe Kimple.
• Aaron Renier returns to comics, taking a break from his kid's book, and gives us the first chapter in a riveting detective thriller The Karaoke Encryption. A story about a tomato gumshoe named Thomas "Guns" Atillo (aka tomatillo!!), this little gem is as layered and textured as Spiral-Bound, his Top Shelf masterpiece. An amazing little comic... More! More! More!
• Next up, another comics narrative by a young Jewish cartoonist looking to return to their roots. Sarah Glidden handed me issue #1 of her ongoing story "How to Understand Israel in Sixty Days or Less," and i must say it's a fine effort. Her art style is loose and expressive while maintaining a balanced realism that helps the somewhat intense subject matter. Nice work. I hope she finishes this and finds a publisher for it. We need more stuff like this in the marketplace.
• Drew Weing brings his magic touch to the Fluke 2007 anthology, proving that not only is he one of the most imaginative cartoonists in recent years, but his eye for bring other high-level creators into the mix is also genius. Since this is "just" a convention-based comic it's likely that this superb anthology will be over-looked, which is criminal. Stand-outs include contributions by Shawn Cheng, Patrick Dean, Joseph Lambert (THAT guy again!), Mike Laughead, Dorothy Gambrell, Joey Weiser, Eleanor Davis (of course), Ben Constantine, Matt Wiegle, Michele Chidester, and Chris Wright. The ace in the hole goes, not surprisingly, to Drew himself with the magnificent "Algernon Lamb: Aesthetic Detective," a tight little masterpiece... in fact, i officially nominate this for Best Short Story of 2007, it's that well crafted.
• James Hindle keeps making great little mini-comics, and they get better every time. He gave me a copy of Folded Paper Assembly #3 and i loved it, especially the lead story "Broken Necks." Like a fun mix of Steven (Ribs!) Weissman and early-era Adrian Tomine. I'm really enjoying James' comics more and more.
• Mr Phil of the incredible Indie Spinner Rack was on hand pimping the debut volume of the awesome anthology Awesome, edited and produced by Mr Phil and his cohort Charlito. Chock full of great comics, it was notable for me particularly for introducing me to excellent new talent (for me at least) like Alexis Frederick-Frost and Phil Jackson. Oh, and there's ANOTHER super rad comic in there by Joseph Lambert. Awesome.
• Monster Island Three, edited by Billy Mavreas jumped out at me from Bodega's table. In the art-zinecamp, this artsy fartsy book from Conundrum Press is a fine edition to a welcome new category. It's not perfect but it has a ton of great art and a sweet essay, "In Defense of our Galaxy: On the publishing history of Jack Kirby's Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers," AND a new comic by Bernie Mireault (who also has a new strip in the aforementioned Awesome anthology).
• Steve Hamaker kindly gave me his last copy of the new Shazam!: the Monster Society of Evil hardcover, written and drawn by Jeff Smith and colored by Steve himself. Wow! A choice entry in the much underrepresented all-ages category (especially from Marvel and DC), this is the first comic from one of the Big Two i've read in years, where i felt a reader didn't need a masters degree in mainstream continuity to enjoy it. A perfect example of how the big publishers can and should be making comics, if they ever hope to have a chance in hell in finding and developing new young readers. More please.
• My favorite book of the trip probably wouldn't even register to most comics readers here in the ol' U.S. A retrospective of the life and output of the highly regarded French publisher Editions Cornelius. Focused more on the art than the history, Cornelius: ou l'art de la mouscaille et du pinaillage is the sort of dreamy book that makes my heart all aflutter. The only similar book i can think of in this category is the also wonderful book, 25 Years of Kitchen Sink, which came out a long time ago.
Cornelius publishes some of the world's greatest authors, and has published the definitive editions of David Mazzuchelli's ground-breaking stories from the seminal three volume Rubber Blanket series. And to prove how great publishing minds think alike, compare the gorgeous Crumb cover to this crazy cool tome, to our own Seasonal Sampler, art directed by myself and drawn by Jeffrey Brown. I swear on my Mom's grave i never saw this before we completed the Sampler.
October 8, 2007 / More →
THINGS I LIKED RECENTLY:
• The MAD War on Bush. A collection of strips from the last several years of the worst presidency in the history of the USA. VERY funny stuff. I laughed and i cried too, because some of the mock-able shenanigans of the administration are more frightening than funny. Picked this up at Samurai Comics in Phoenix when i was down there visiting family this last week.
• Pinwheel, by Mike Bertino. Given to me at the Stumptown Comics Fest last weekend by my pals at Tender Loving Empire, this little comic is a formal tour-de-force, and oh so good. Mike was doing mini-comics way back in the day (most notably his ambitious 4-issue mini-series Trigger), then sort of disappeared to go to school. Well now he's back, and the world is a better place for it. Worth tracking down. It's a little spendy at $10 plus shipping, but it's got a trick screenprinted cover and is limited to 250 copies.
• Tripwire Annual 2007. This reboot follows a four year hiatus, and it's excellent. The previous run was really hit or miss, leaning more often towards the miss side for my tastes. The new ish is a huge leap forward, and if it wasn't for the weak comics section near the back, would be one of my favorites of the year. The bitchin' Hellboy cover by Duncan Fegredo is almost worth the cover price alone.
• Comic Foundry #1. Love it! Love it! Love it! I've raved about this many times in the past. Three words. Buy. This. Magazine.
• I wrote before how much i loved the art of Laura Park with her comic Do Not Disturb My Waking Dream. Well, since i gave my copy to Gregory Benton for letting me crash it his pad during MoCCA, i finally finagled a swap with Laura for a new copy of my own. I read it. Fucking amazing! Arguably my favorite new indy cartoonist to come along in ages.
Laura, do you wanna do a book together?
• Speaking of Stumptown... this was yet another year besting the previous one. I dig the new location and hope it stays. Had fun. But i still can't believe that a town that is arguably the freaking MECCA for comics in North America doesn't burn down the house with rockin' success. What gives? I had way more business at my table at TCAF in Toronto several weeks ago.
Still, BIG BIG props to all involved. It was a breeze to work, the staff and volunteers were great. This was really the first year that gave me hope that this will eventual evolve into a real and truly vital comics show.
•Â So i did a HUGE music purge recently (loading lots and lots of partial albums into my iTunes), and picked up some new records in trade, all recommended. Four On The Floor, by Juliette Lewis & The Licks; Revival, by John Fogerty; Magic, by Bruce Springsteen; Sounds of Mass Destruction, by Annie Lennox; and a nice (used) reissue, Jimmy & Wes: the Dynamic Duo, by Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery on Verve Records. It's amazing to think of the cumulative music making experience behind Annie, Bruce, and John. What, a century and a half almost? Three people. And they're still kicking out killer new projects. I picked up the Juliette Lewis one on a hunch, having seen and liked her on the tube on stuff like VH1's I Love the 70's show and whatnot. I'm glad i did. It rocks seriously hard! The band is tight and Juliette is on fire. Pure power pop at its finest.
• Meanwhile, here's a series of drawings my a very short-lived intern i had this Summer named Andy Kettler. The kid can draw! This was a series of rounds of drafts he did for a poster i'm going to have another intern poster around Portland.
John Weeks sent out an email update for his excellent site Comics Lifestyle. I notice he's done a fine revamp of said site as well. I really dig this vintage-style header!
• Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum of the wildly successful library-based comic strip Unshelved, have served up anouther fine comics-review of Alex Robinson's Box Office Poison. Thanks for the props, guys.
• Kevin Moore is back on the editorial cartoon bandwagon with his strip called In Contempt, and man he's funny as shit! Welcome back to the political fold, Kevin!
• Jen Contino interviewed Alex Robinson back on teh 17th at The Pulse, regarding his new comic Lower Regions. Check it out.
• Issue #3 of C'est Bon is out (sporting a cover by the great great James Jean), and this humble Eurocentric anthology continues to impress. A vital new voice in international comics available to the North American audience, on the same level as the likes of Papercutter, Mome, and You Ain't No Dancer. Highly recommended.
• Tom Hart is at it again:
"I've teamed up with the terrific folks at The Panelist, a website about investing ethically, to start a new weekly strip, The Money Warrior!
"The Money Warrior's on the hunt! He's current, direct, ruthless and primal! The Money Warrior wants to kill you some money!
You can keep up by checking www.thepanelist.com or www.themoneywarrior.com once a week.
"The Money Warrior started as a bit of a parody of Jim Cramer of Mad Money, and in fact I created the first iteration for my Metro strips. But those strips reminded me that in the end, I dislike parody and that I'd rather invent my own creations, something new from a starting point of parody. The folks at the Panelist recognized a similar traveler in the Money Warrior, and asked for more."
•Â I've been cleaning up my desktop and archiving lots of "stuff" lately. Some great offbeat/rare art most of which were jpeg email attachments, which i plan to slowly start running here at Hey Bartender!.
And here's a nifty coaster design by Max Estes.