May 18, 2011 / More →
• Update to the Swedish Expedition... Andres Lundgren wrote in to help fill in some blanks, regarding the wild night of of mai tais and dancing:
"...some additional info for your excellent festival report: Linda "something" = Borgstrom.
"...two folks who's names i don't recall" = also present were Sara Israelsson, Ola Hellsten and Esteban Meiko (yeah, we drank quite alot so understand if some names slipped your mind.)"
Tack så mycket, Anders!
• Francois Vigneault released the second awesome issue of Elfworld, under his Family Style label. This is such a cool book. If you're half as big a fan as i am of indy cartoonists taking on superheroes or sword & sorcery, then you'll want to pick this up. PLUS it features a strip by the long lost Dylan Horrocks!
May 12, 2011 / More →
Great to see our Swede pals Kristiina Kolehmainen, Johannes Klenell, Simon Gärdenfors, Kolbeinn Karlsson, Mats Jonsson, Joanna Hellgren, Fredrik Strömberg, Knut Larsson, and more at the Swedish SPX in Stockholm this last weekend.
Non-Swedes i enjoyed seeing again or meeting for the first time included: Mari Ahokoivu (Finland), Bendik Katelborn (Norway), Nicolas Mahler (Austria), Kati Rickenbach (Switzerland) and Ulli Lust (Germany), and, well, that's all that comes to mind right now.
Mari gave me a boss little mini-comic, Batman #1: The Sad Issue [Adventures of The Batman including Bad Friends, Hipsters and other depressing things.] Nicolas Mahler gave me one of the comics from his new comics line called Kabinett Passage. (His own, titled Mahlermuseum.) Also met an expat named Brendan Monroe, who gave me an oversized mini titled Islands that both Eric Reynolds and myself were marveling over. Turns out he's a sweet painter too. (Evokes the fantastic realists Beksinki and Yerka, but with a more contemporary flavor.)
Friday night i ended up with most of the American contingent at, of all places, expat Austin English's girlfriend's (Clara Bessijelle) mom's house a short walk out of downtown for a civilian (i.e. not comics based) house party. Met another expat named Juliacks. Unplanned and unimaginable events like this are one of the things that make my job so awesome. Priceless.
[Austin and Clara]
The Saturday night party was a hootenanny! Chris and i started the evening out with Anders Lundgren, Freddie Kaplan, Linda ("something," from the sci-fi bookstore in oldtown) and two folks who's names i don't recall, sucking down mai tais at a bitchin' Tiki lounge, then ended up dancing for four hours at the official festival party. I'm pretty sure it was Johannes DJ'ing no less! Gods, what a fun night.
[Chris, Anders, Freddie, and ?...]
Our pal Anna Petterson took this snap of myself and Chris on the last day of the show. Great to see her!
So i didn't have to carry extra weight, the single book i purchased at the show was Tour d'Europe ("The story of two aspiring yogis on a bike ride through Europe"), by Kaisa & Christoffer Leka. Kaisa produced my favorite pick-up from our last visit two years ago, On the Outside Looking In. And they're both in English! I'm not quite sure how to acquire it, but if you can, seek Kaisa's comics out... i love her work sooooo much.
• The mighty Tom Hart is having a fund-raising campaign through Indie Go Go to launch his new comics school — The Sequential Artists Workshop — in Florida! Tom is a rock-star, and no doubt his school will be as important to the medium as James Sturms' outstanding Center for Cartoon Studies.
• Alex Robinson has a brief interview on MTV dotcom. That's rad.
• Matt Bors has been cranking out some awesome strips called Idiot Box, that i think are up there with Tom Tomorrow's This Modern World and Lloyd Dangle's late Troubletown. Smartly written, gorgeously drawn, and funny as hell.
• Finally, back to the Swedes, our pal Simon Gardenfors is soooo close to their Kickstarter goal to fund a pilot episode of Paco the Judo Popcorn! Help them reach their goal, please please please?
May 3, 2011 / More →
• Former Top Shelf intern and current ink studress Jen Vaughn posted a news item on the CCS blog about the Vermont House Resolution formally declaring Kochalka the first Cartoonist Laureate of Vermont.
James transcribed some of the fine-print legalese:
"Whereas in a recent edition of his American Elf cartoon series, in which James Kochalka humorously depicts his own life, he acknowledged to his thrilled agent the importance of being designated the first Vermont cartoonist laureate, but then refused to discuss the matter further citing an immediate preoccupation with making grapefruit-peel candy with his sons Eli, 7, and Oliver, 3"
• Heading to the printer NOW, in hopes of a San Diego ComicCon release: Chris (Elio) Eliopoulos' Okie Dokie Donuts; Ray Friesen's Pirate Penguin vs Ninja Chicken; Nate Powell's Any Empire; and Kagan McLeod's epic Infinite Kung Fu.
• Meanwhile, i got a wee little way into my pile of comics picked up at Stumptown. Here's some micro-reviews. As always, if you read about it here, it comes recommended. By them now and thank me later.
First, Little Otsu doesn't really have a prolific publishing schedule — in fact, much of their output are blank artist journals and such — but what they do put out is usually amazing. Case in point, volumes 2-4 of the Living Things series. (I already gave huge props to #1 a while back.)
These are all excellent, but my favorite of the three is titled Pheromones: A Chemical Conversation, by Jo Dery. As a budding naturalist myself, books like this that explore the natural world can't come out often enough.
Next up, What, Were You Raised by Wolves, by Vera Brosgol. This is a very affecting little tale, with a surreal and dark twist that reminds me of the twisted tales of Graham Annable. Vera's art and storytelling are simple, in the best way. Gorgeous.
From David Lasky (drawn, anyway) comes Soixante Neuf (that means "69" in French), written by Mairead Case. This is a terrific little flip-book about the May/December romance between Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. ("She was 21, he 40. Jaws dropped. Eyes popped.") Lasky could draw the phone book, or the menu at a cheesy diner, and it'd be a gem. This is just good stuff all around. Released by Light in the Attic Records.
Finally, in the It's-About-Time column, Secret Acres has released the first collection of comics, I Will Bite You!, by the brilliant Joseph Lambert. I've raved about Joe's comics several times before, and here's where you can get most of his output to date in one volume.
• Catch you kids when i get back from Stockholm!!
April 24, 2011 / More →
We might have gotten the shaft on nominations this year... whatevs. But future Top Shelfer Shannon Wheeler got a nom for his book I Thought You Would be Funnier (from Boom!), in the category Best Humor Publication.
UPDATE! I've been informed that Shannon's name has been left off of the online ballot, so if you can, use that old-fashioned mail thingy and send in the paper one instead.
No surprise, but Stumptown was a blast. I just unpacked all the sweet loot i brought home, and will cover some of that later. Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin's Gingerbread Girl was a smash success, selling out of the 100 copies we brought along with us, and Jeffrey Brown had a constant line, waiting for a signature. We sold a boatload of his new Incredible Change-Bots Two. I do love this show. Next up for this bartender... Stockholm, Sweden, baby!!
• Speaking of Sweden, please check out the Kickstarter campaign for our pal Simon Gardenfors and the project titled Paco the Judo Popcorn: A Cartoon for Kids.
• I missed MoCCA this year, and i'm bummed to have missed out meeting the great Brecht Evens. Pascal Girard made this terrific cartoon diary talking about the force Brecht was on the proceedings, care of The Comics Journal.
April 14, 2011 / More →
Kids, there's gonna be a hot time in Portland this weekend! It's always a blast attending a convention in your own hometown. Heck, this is the only trade show where i show up with my son in tow!
And fresh of the FedEx truck, we've got 100 copies of Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin's terrific Gingerbread Girl! These won't arrive from the slow boat for at least another 4-6 weeks, so if you want to get a copy you'd better act fast fast fast!
Also, Jeffrey Brown will be here as well, with copies of the brand spankin' new Incredible Change-Bots Two in hand! Yee haw!
So y'all head on out and come say hi!
• Meanwhile, here's a Kickstarter campaign for one of my favorite up & coming animators working today, Nick Cross, and his forthcoming Black Sunrise. Check out the trailer, and kick in!
April 7, 2011 / More →
In the rearview mirror already: WonderCon, STAPLE, Emerald City, C2E2, and one or two more(?). This weekend, MoCCA. Next weekend, Stumptown. Then TCAF and SPX (Stockholm, Sweden). Yeesh...
April 11-13th, Nate Powell will be doing a series of presentations/ Q&A sessions in his hometown of Little Rock, AR in conjunction with the Arkansas Literary Festival and National Library Week. Check out Nate's blog for more info.
He's also doing set artwork and projected comic illustrations for the play The Outstanding Eight by Gabriel Cooper and Jonathan Wierenga, performed at Michigan State University's RCAH Theatre on April 28-30th.
March 28, 2011 / More →
March 23, 2011 / More →
That's right, James' artwork graces the cover of the current issue of Trends in Cell Biology magazine! This is NOT a typo!
• Meanwhile, check out The Comic Book Guide to the Mission, an anthology of comics about San Francisco's Mission District, from Skoda Man Press. Skoda Man is the brainchild of Lauren Davis, who just threw props our way for Chester 5000, on the bitchin' genre website io9.
What a sweet idea!
• Finally, go out and get yerself the new issue of Papercutter, edited by the great Greg Means at Tugboat Press. This issue features a gripping cover story by Jonas Madden-Connor. It tells the parallel stories of a young boy who realizes his world is not what it seems and a retelling of the Hercules myth as he tricks a cowardly king. Melinda Boyce recounts her harrowing childhood memories of ill advised candy consumption and dental mishaps. MK Reed and Drew Weing wrap up the issue with a cautionary tale titled "My Boyfriend... Or My Kitty?"
And check out this insanely awesome back cover by Drew!
O.k., so i'm Pat Barrett's thesis advisor this year while he wraps up school at Center for Cartoon Studies. And his learning curve is outstanding. Here's a recent post from his own blog, on how he designed this, the seal for James Kochalka's new standing as Vermont's first Cartoon Laureate. Great stuff.
March 14, 2011 / More →
Has it really been that long?...
• The truly great Graham Annable strikes again. (Graham, do you have a dvd with all of your animations on it?)
The Smartest Dog in the World.
• Well kick me in the pants! Doesn't this look amazing!
"Jesse Jacobs bursts onto the comic scene with his first published work Even The Giants. The work beautifully captures the isolation of the Great White North while also giving the artist a sequential canvas to explore and experiment. This book will be printed in three Pantone spot colors. Jesse's work has been nominated for the Doug Wright award and has won the Gene Day award."
March 2, 2011 / More →
(with illustrator Sean Phillips) for Sweet Smell of Success. Genius. 'nuff said.
The film itself (from Criterion), made in 1957, starring Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster, is a masterpiece; as relevant today as ever. Lancaster's role, based on a legendary Hollywood gossip columnist, is slimy, in the Glen Beck mould. The entire cast was pitch-perfect, but Curtis was out of this world.
Extras included a terrific short film about the director, Alexander (Sandy) Mackendrick, and short film about director of photography, James Wong Howe.
Great stuff. Highly recommended. Read more about this film in this Criterion essay by Paul Cronin, "Mackendrick and Odets."
• Fantagraphics & Top Shelf Presents: Con Artists, the Emerald City Comic-Con After-Party. Saturday, March 5th at the Jewel Box Theater at the Rendezvous. Featuring: Can You Imagine?;
The Rheas; and Matthew Southworth, frontman for The Capillaries. DJ'ing between sets will be DJ Janice, aka Janice Headley, Events Coordinator for Fantagraphics (and Programming Assistant at Seattle radio station KEXP).
Saturday, March 5th, 2011 at 9:00 pm
Jewel Box Theater at The Rendezvous
2322 2nd Avenue in Belltown
Admission $5 (General Public)
FREE with Emerald City Comic-Con badge
21 and over with ID
• Big thanks to AdHouse maestro Chris Pitzer for two outstanding new Nobrow Press books, he's sub-distributing. Both by a crazy-talented new talent (for me, at least), named Jon McNaught, titled Birchfield Close and Pebble Island. I am absolutely digging on this stuff. I know that direct comparisons can be tricky, but really, imagine the human moments, pacing, and natural rhythms of Kevin Huizenga (especially some of his older short pieces in his superlative mini, Supermonster) + the formal, mathematical visual patterns of Chris Ware + a warm, rich color palette straight from the Hudson River School. This = WOW.
• Finally, um, yeah... yet one more in a lost list of reasons i personally am not on Facebook.
February 22, 2011 / More →
Our own Jess Smart Smiley — who's first Top Shelf Kids Club book Upside Down: A Vampires Tale hits stores this Halloween — has launched a modest Kickstarter campaign to create a Monster Coloring Book!
February 17, 2011 / More →
This week she's also starting a weekly column called "S'Crapbook" at a pretty high-profile Brooklyn blog called Only The Blog Knows Brooklyn. S'Crapbook will be little odds and ends about comix and family life.
In this sequel to the classic bestseller Perspective! For the Comic Book Artist, David Chelsea takes perspective to a whole other level—by exploring the most dramatic viewpoints employed by today’s artists. Many of these techniques have been carefully guarded secrets for centuries. But David, and his hollow-headed friend, Mugg, make them accessible to a new generation of artists, cartoonists, illustrators, and animators. In Extreme Perspective! For Artists, you’ll learn how to
• Render complicated multi-sided objects in perfect perspective
• Create accurate shadows and reflections from your own imagination
• Master the most difficult kinds of curvilinear perspective systems
• Draw eye-popping images in fisheye perspective
• Use your computer to create elaborate scenes quicker and more easily
• … And much, much more!
• Cammy gives Too Cool To Be Forgotten high marks, at Cammy's Comics Corner.